The nameless narrator of David Levithan’s novel The Lover’s Dictionary narrates his relationship in the form of dictionary definitions of words, from aberrant to zenith. Some definitions are a page long, others just a sentence. Which makes it sound gimmicky and cute and Twitterific, but this book is anything but. It’s moving, hilarious, heartbreaking and smart. It’s also something of a guessing game, because the definitions leap back and forth across the span of the relationship. This book is a poignant reminder that words can say everything and nothing — and the same goes for the spaces and the pauses between them. Levithan’s is a spare tale and yet it feels universal, especially because the narrator addresses his partner as a nameless, gender-less “you.” But enough with all this wordiness, let’s just show you what we mean with a few of our favorite entries:
Sometimes during sex, I wish there was a button on the small of your back that I could press and cause you to be done with it already.
My faithfulness was as unthinking as your lapse. Of all the things I thought could go wrong, I never thought it would be that.
â€śIt was a mistake,â€ť you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether youâ€™re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself. If the moment doesnâ€™t pass, thatâ€™s it — youâ€™re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes itâ€™s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your loverâ€™s face.
I took it out on the wall.
I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU. YOU FUCKER, I LOVE YOU.
I believe your exact words were: “You’re getting too emotional.”