Monday, March 24, 2014

Days of David Levithan: Lover's Dictionary and Realm of Possibility

Between 2013-2014 I attempt to read a large selection of David Levithan novels.
See the full list here

We are kind of skipping around in publication order because I think these two Levithan novels have a lot in common as they are both love stories written in nontraditional prose.

 The Realm of Possibility is Levithan's second novel and tells the stories of 20 high school students through individual 2-3 page narratives; each with their own unique  format and wording. The stories span from a boyfriend jealous of his girlfriend's infatuation with Holden Caulfield to a girl wrestling with why and if she is a bad person.  Some stories go everywhere while many go nowhere, but it's an enticing ride along the way. This was my very first Levithan novel and also one of the first reviews on the blog, the full review can be found here.

Lover's Dictionary is in a similar vain, but tells the story of one couple and switches things up by being told in dictionary entries. This book stands out in Levithan's bibliography  because it's Levithan's first and up to this point only adult novel. Like Realm of Possibility, you could knock this book out in less than an hour, but  it's also a book you can go back to and dip in and out of for a second read.

I'd heard about this book for a while and kind of strayed away from it because the high concept intimidated me.But after reading it I see what Levithan is really doing is writing a series of chronological mini scenes from the couple's relationship based on a dictionary word. So it will look like:

“encroach, v.

The first three nights we spent together, I couldn't sleep. I wasn't used to your breathing, your feet on my legs, your weight in my bed. In truth, I still sleep better when I'm alone. But now I allow that sleep isn't always the most important thing. "

The couple in this book doesn't have an all lovey dovey sweet romance. Their  relationship clearly has serious issues and will have you questioning if the couple will make it. As Levithan says on his website,the only thing that really makes this book an adult book is that it's about adults, so this book could very easily appeal to a YA (or...New Adult) audience.

Overall these are some of my favorite novels of Levithan's. They play around with how we can use words and pages to tell a story. It's amazing how you can still connect to character and story even after  you strip away  character names, settings, appearances, dialogue and background characters.

For a while, The Lover's Dictionary reminded me of Levithan's YA novel Everyday because the characters were gender ambiguous. However,  later in the book it is stated the narrator is male and their significant other is female.

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