Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary is a dictionary, with one brief entry per page attributing some aspect of the relationship to relevant word plucked from the dictionary. This is a love story, told in an A through Z series of moments and reflections. Calling it a love story is almost misleading; it’s more appropriate to call this a lover’s story. Written from the boyfriend’s perspective, each dictionary entry is an ode to something about his girlfriend: her personality traits, his favorite memories, his least favorite memories. This is their love through his eyes, defined by the words he chooses.
This is a quick read worth reading. The last book I read, Louise Erdrich’s Shadow Tag, included an extensive discussion of whether our lives consist of moments. The husband in that book, also an artist, believed we’re defined by moments: the moment we fell in love, the moment we met our best friend, the moment we fall out of love. The wife doesn’t believe in moments, she believes in history; that our lives are defined by long periods of gradual change rather than sudden realization.
Regardless of your philosophical views, our memories seem to be dominated by moments. When you consider your relationships with others, whether it’s your relationship with your ex, childhood friend, or estranged relative; you remember precise pieces of that relationship. A character trait exemplified by distinctive example; the happiest moment you ever spent with them; the time you really noticed what they looked like.