Partway into this collection, Teri tweeted a link to this comment thread on a Hairpin advice post, prompting a brief discussion of Díaz and how autobiographical his work might be. Since I haven’t read much about him as a person before, I wasn’t aware that his character Yunior, who is the centerpiece of this collection of stories, is really quite similar to him, making much of his ﬁction pretty true-to-life. That awareness made some of the stories more uncomfortable to read than others, notably those that are primarily about Yunior’s womanizing tendencies. One could read these potentially misogynistic moments as highlighting the struggles of Latino masculinity, yet there’s a line between deconstructive exploration and stubborn gloriﬁcation that shifts wildly depending on the moment and the perspective of the reader. Díaz framed such moments in the context of simultaneity at a talk last year at the Facing Race Conference where he said, “We are fundamentally comprised of the oppressions we resist.”
The ﬁnale, “The Cheater’s Guide to Love,” is the culmination of this squirm-inducing, seemingly memoir-ﬁction, and yet it’s so excellently written and was diﬃcult to put down. I couldn’t help but romanticize that its gripping nature is grounded in its (presumably) real-life roots. (But I am also such a sucker for second-person narratives.) I still have to hope that self-awareness counts for something.