Junot Díaz on Writing Men, Stories as Art, and Star Wars
This Is How You Lose Her will make sense to Miamians who can identify with its Latino characters, Spanish and English idioms, focus on diaspora and broken families, and, yes, the sex that seeps from every chapter like oil from a fragrant perm. But the book is most remarkable in how it peels back layers, not just on the idea of the Latin male, but on masculinity itself.
"When I [write] about the complexity of masculinity, it's not because I'm looking for some free, sympathy handout for men," Díaz explains. "But because I think that by looking at its complexity it offers us opportunities to transform it."
Díaz's approach has paid off. Scores of men have sent him emails saying that - for better or worse - they see themselves in his broken but believable characters. "There are a lot of men who reach out and say...'Jesus fucking Christ. This is something unlike what I've read before but it feels very much like my life,'" he says. "I've also gotten a bunch of emails from mothers who are like, 'Dude, I read this book and it was like I was talking to my fucking crazy son.'"
"As an artist, you're trying to do something really new," Díaz continues. "Usually you find the new where people have gotten tired of looking. Most of us confuse the overabundance of males for honesty about men. There are so many male characters, so many books that are about men... so many movies that are only about men - where the women are just a beard, a love interest to keep the homo-social aspect of the story more suppressed - that I think a lot of us sort of think, 'God, any more writing about men I'm going to hang myself.'"
"But the realization that I made was that, certainly we have too much writing about men, but we also have too much incredibly low level and what I would argue is sort of generic writing about men," he adds. "I felt what we need is far less writing about men, but the writing that we get should at least be somehow sharp and honest."