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Love Is a Four-Letter Word: True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts

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From Junot Díaz, Lynda Barry, Gary Shteyngart, and Kate Christensen to popular up-and-comers like Dan Kennedy, Wendy McClure, and Brock Clarke, Love Is a Four-Letter Word is a dead-on contemporary collection of true stories of seduction, heartbreak, and regret. Fearlessly revealing their shattered hearts and crushed egos; their indiscretions and indignities; their delusion From Junot Díaz, Lynda Barry, Gary Shteyngart, and Kate Christensen to popular up-and-comers like Dan Kennedy, Wendy McClure, and Brock Clarke, Love Is a Four-Letter Word is a dead-on contemporary collection of true stories of seduction, heartbreak, and regret. Fearlessly revealing their shattered hearts and crushed egos; their indiscretions and indignities; their delusions, desperation, and disappointments, these talented writers capture the dark side of love in prose ranging from comic to poetic, poignant to cringe-inducing. Also featuring three cartoon/ graphic essays as a sixteen-page color insert, this anthology is perfect for anyone who’s ever loved and lost.


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From Junot Díaz, Lynda Barry, Gary Shteyngart, and Kate Christensen to popular up-and-comers like Dan Kennedy, Wendy McClure, and Brock Clarke, Love Is a Four-Letter Word is a dead-on contemporary collection of true stories of seduction, heartbreak, and regret. Fearlessly revealing their shattered hearts and crushed egos; their indiscretions and indignities; their delusion From Junot Díaz, Lynda Barry, Gary Shteyngart, and Kate Christensen to popular up-and-comers like Dan Kennedy, Wendy McClure, and Brock Clarke, Love Is a Four-Letter Word is a dead-on contemporary collection of true stories of seduction, heartbreak, and regret. Fearlessly revealing their shattered hearts and crushed egos; their indiscretions and indignities; their delusions, desperation, and disappointments, these talented writers capture the dark side of love in prose ranging from comic to poetic, poignant to cringe-inducing. Also featuring three cartoon/ graphic essays as a sixteen-page color insert, this anthology is perfect for anyone who’s ever loved and lost.

30 review for Love Is a Four-Letter Word: True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    If you're thinking of not reading this because you think it might be depressing, think again. Yes, it is about breakups, bad relationships, and broken hearts, but there is an immense amount of uplifting sentiment and lessons learned in these pages. And a healthy dose of hilarity, too. If you're thinking of not reading this because you think it might be depressing, think again. Yes, it is about breakups, bad relationships, and broken hearts, but there is an immense amount of uplifting sentiment and lessons learned in these pages. And a healthy dose of hilarity, too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andie Nash

    I LOVED THIS BOOK! One of the best collections I've ever read. This caught my eye at the library and I chose it because Dan Kennedy--one of my all-time favorite writers and all-around awesome guy (I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my literary magazine in 2010)--was a contributor. I read his story first, naturally, then went on to the rest of the pieces from other authors and was very pleasantly surprised; there was not a one that I didn't absolutely love. I recommend this book to anyone I LOVED THIS BOOK! One of the best collections I've ever read. This caught my eye at the library and I chose it because Dan Kennedy--one of my all-time favorite writers and all-around awesome guy (I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my literary magazine in 2010)--was a contributor. I read his story first, naturally, then went on to the rest of the pieces from other authors and was very pleasantly surprised; there was not a one that I didn't absolutely love. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It's brilliant.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I picked this one up for the Kate Christensen story and was totally sucked in. Funny how everyone has bad, good, humiliating memories about the people in our past - and how easily all that comes back when reading someone else's version, especially with a glass of wine in hand. Very good. *Still, on that mountain I learned something invaluable: there are two types of people. The first kind pretend to know things they don't, the second kind choose to ignore things they do. I'm the second kind.* - A I picked this one up for the Kate Christensen story and was totally sucked in. Funny how everyone has bad, good, humiliating memories about the people in our past - and how easily all that comes back when reading someone else's version, especially with a glass of wine in hand. Very good. *Still, on that mountain I learned something invaluable: there are two types of people. The first kind pretend to know things they don't, the second kind choose to ignore things they do. I'm the second kind.* - Amanda Stern

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Every bad decision I ever made, every love-gone-wrong I've ever experienced, every heart I've broken (including my own) is represented here. That might not sound fun, but this was a really fun book to read. Great memoiristic pieces. Nice to know I'm not the only one... Every bad decision I ever made, every love-gone-wrong I've ever experienced, every heart I've broken (including my own) is represented here. That might not sound fun, but this was a really fun book to read. Great memoiristic pieces. Nice to know I'm not the only one...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Funny and sad, but gets a bit repetitive (obviously)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    The first entry is from my man Junot Diaz. What better way to start the exploration!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    Real, truthful and Funny stories about breakups... :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    while jared & i were in boston for the holidays, we stopped by the harvard bookstore to do some window shopping. my feet were really tired, so i pulled this book off the shelf & sat down on the padded bench by the graphic novels to read & rest. i wound up getting really absorbed. it was pretty smart for the editor to lead off with junot diaz's story about his girlfriend finding out he cheated on her right before they left to travel together in the dominican republic, helping out some volunteer d while jared & i were in boston for the holidays, we stopped by the harvard bookstore to do some window shopping. my feet were really tired, so i pulled this book off the shelf & sat down on the padded bench by the graphic novels to read & rest. i wound up getting really absorbed. it was pretty smart for the editor to lead off with junot diaz's story about his girlfriend finding out he cheated on her right before they left to travel together in the dominican republic, helping out some volunteer dentists & later attacking a decorative turtle shell mounted on the wall of their motel. that was probably the best story in the book. i also really enjoyed lynda barry's comic (which i choose to believe is about ira glass, the smarmy bastard), but it's also in her book, 100 demons, so it wasn't really a huge selling point. 100 demons is probably better, because it's ALL lynda barry, with no boring stories about ex-fiancees dying of cirrhosis. i didn't come for tales of wow, i came for tales of LOL at other people's expense! there's nothing funny about people dying without allowing their loved ones closure. but i was psyched about the emily flake comic. that woman is a comedy genius! i love how much expression she gets on her characters with such economical lines. that was probably why i bought the book, & i scarfed it all up on the plane ride back to kansas city. usually anthologies like this are fun for a little while & then they lose their luster because they're padded out with a bunch of filler only tangentially related to the topic at hand (in this case, shitty relationships & bad break-ups--possibly my #1 most favorite topic of conversation, even though it's been years since i've had anything to contribute). you can tell who got the call for submissions & went digging in their files for something already written that they could use as a publishing credit. even though i am sure that happened with this anthology too, i really enjoyed it. folks who don't enjoy relationships-based gallows humor & aren't as amused by other people's emotional pain as i am probably won't love it as much, but it was right up my alley. oh, except for the very weird 9/11-based story. what the hell was that? the writing was good, but...seriously? you dated some dude for three months & had panic attacks about 9/11, even though you live in chicago, & the dude sounded like a total douche & that was your worst break-up? what are you, 23? it gets worse, trust me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    I keep a handwritten list of books that I want to read. I'm not entirely sure how this book ended up on that list, but when it did, I listed it (as I usually do) only by the beginning of the title; anything after the colon was left off. So when I was looking through my list recently for a book that would likely be a quick read, I picked this one because it's relatively short and I thought it was stories about love. I had long since forgotten that it was about love gone bad. Still, when I picked i I keep a handwritten list of books that I want to read. I'm not entirely sure how this book ended up on that list, but when it did, I listed it (as I usually do) only by the beginning of the title; anything after the colon was left off. So when I was looking through my list recently for a book that would likely be a quick read, I picked this one because it's relatively short and I thought it was stories about love. I had long since forgotten that it was about love gone bad. Still, when I picked it up from the library, I decided to go ahead and read it anyway. Simply put: this book is depressing. The way people treat each other in relationships totally sucks. That some of these authors thought it would be a good idea to put proof of their bad behavior down on paper is beyond my comprehension. Some of them came off like real jerks; others came off like total nut cases; and nearly all of the rest showed how entirely too-self-aware most modern writers are (in my opinion). Ugh. The good news is that it is in fact a quick read. I finished it in a matter of hours over the course of two days. And I must have enjoyed at least one story because I'm giving it 2 stars. Also, it made me feel good about myself that I've managed to comport myself in all of my relationships with a modicum of dignity and respect.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    I’ve grown leery of the essay anthology after the horrible experience I had reading Things I Would Have Learned in English 101 if I Hadn’t Skipped Class to Have Sex, I mean, Things I Learned from the Women Who Dumped Me. The book was so awful and cliched that I feared I had be scarred for life. Then I kept reading about Love is a Four-Letter Word, subtitled True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts, edited by Michael Taeckens. It worried me and then I saw that the introductio I’ve grown leery of the essay anthology after the horrible experience I had reading Things I Would Have Learned in English 101 if I Hadn’t Skipped Class to Have Sex, I mean, Things I Learned from the Women Who Dumped Me. The book was so awful and cliched that I feared I had be scarred for life. Then I kept reading about Love is a Four-Letter Word, subtitled True Stories of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts, edited by Michael Taeckens. It worried me and then I saw that the introduction was by Neal Pollack, and made me even more worried. But ultimately I was won over by the author list — Junot Diaz, Kate Christensen, Dan Kennedy, and Said Saytafiezadeh. Thank god I put my fears aside and dove in. This was fun. Read More

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jojo

    I expected this to be an uneven collection, and it is - some of the essays are good, and some just go nowhere, but they're all so heartfelt that I feel guilty singling out the ones that were less than enthralling. I'm always interested in anthologies like this, though - many authors, one overarching idea. Something I learned about myself after reading this: I have never had any relationships as thrilling or as horrible as any of these writers have. One totally nitpicky thing that I honestly never I expected this to be an uneven collection, and it is - some of the essays are good, and some just go nowhere, but they're all so heartfelt that I feel guilty singling out the ones that were less than enthralling. I'm always interested in anthologies like this, though - many authors, one overarching idea. Something I learned about myself after reading this: I have never had any relationships as thrilling or as horrible as any of these writers have. One totally nitpicky thing that I honestly never notice enough to comment on, with most books, so if I noticed, it must have been really bad: the cover is just so damn busy. Yikes. Your eye isn't drawn to any one thing and it's off-putting.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was such a wonderful read. Everyone can relate to it in someway. Who has never been in a situation where love is not involved? You are either in love, out of love, looking for love, or trying to escape love. All these stories discuss the different aspects and periods one goes through. You can see yourself in the stories. You can see your friends in the stories. You can see yourself with your friends discussing the stories. There are hilarious moments and times when you want to cry. There ar This was such a wonderful read. Everyone can relate to it in someway. Who has never been in a situation where love is not involved? You are either in love, out of love, looking for love, or trying to escape love. All these stories discuss the different aspects and periods one goes through. You can see yourself in the stories. You can see your friends in the stories. You can see yourself with your friends discussing the stories. There are hilarious moments and times when you want to cry. There are also the few where you realize the author of the story could have been you. Great Book. Easy and Quick read. So worth checking out.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Some of these essays were painful to read since I could identify so strongly with one or more of the people in them. Some of these essays made me cringe at my own previous behavior. What I learned is why these relationship essays and the genre are important:"Our current human situation has produced an abundance of breakup literature. I could give credit to the fact that we live in a fragmented society where it's hard to come by actual connections with people with whom we might consider building Some of these essays were painful to read since I could identify so strongly with one or more of the people in them. Some of these essays made me cringe at my own previous behavior. What I learned is why these relationship essays and the genre are important:"Our current human situation has produced an abundance of breakup literature. I could give credit to the fact that we live in a fragmented society where it's hard to come by actual connections with people with whom we might consider building a life, or to a world where alienation and misunderstanding are the norms." (p. xvii)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emma Kaufmann

    I was really looking forward to this book. Unfortunately I found the stories so useless and unpleasant that I could not read more than five of them. Now, there might be some gems in this book, but randomly picking out five stories gave me a sense of uniform badness. The stories I read were about people making stupid decisions in their lives to take up with losers or worse, and in the end they part ways. Yawn. Not interesting or entertainingly told either. Um, how did this get published?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Faced with a magazine story that is part anecdote and part educational information, I am very likely to just read the anecdotal bits. This book is all anecdotes, so I liked it quite a bit. I'd let it sit on my to be read pile for a long time because I feared a book of breakup stories would depress me, but that didn't turn out to be the case, probably because by the time these authors wrote about the incidents, the pain was not still fresh. Faced with a magazine story that is part anecdote and part educational information, I am very likely to just read the anecdotal bits. This book is all anecdotes, so I liked it quite a bit. I'd let it sit on my to be read pile for a long time because I feared a book of breakup stories would depress me, but that didn't turn out to be the case, probably because by the time these authors wrote about the incidents, the pain was not still fresh.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Some of these stories were heart-breaking, but most were amusing (or even disturbing) "cautionary tales" that made me grateful for the relatively calm relationships and breakups that I've had ... or at least made mine look good by comparison :o) -- but I didn't enjoy the book nearly as much on the second go-around Some of these stories were heart-breaking, but most were amusing (or even disturbing) "cautionary tales" that made me grateful for the relatively calm relationships and breakups that I've had ... or at least made mine look good by comparison :o) -- but I didn't enjoy the book nearly as much on the second go-around

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    Read straight through almost without stopping - most of the stories are very engaging, funny, heart-tugging. A few, not as much, but all were above average interesting. Reviewing this now (several months after reading it) makes me want to pick it up again and re-read some of the stories. Also, I kinda have a thing for the editor ;-)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    Kind of perfect timing to read this book. There were some pieces that left me grateful that none of the break ups in my life have been that crazy. Then there were pieces that were sad and poignant and left me feeling somewhat voyeuristic. Definitely a mood-specific book. I couldn't have read this if I were in the throes of a new and blooming relationship. Kind of perfect timing to read this book. There were some pieces that left me grateful that none of the break ups in my life have been that crazy. Then there were pieces that were sad and poignant and left me feeling somewhat voyeuristic. Definitely a mood-specific book. I couldn't have read this if I were in the throes of a new and blooming relationship.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    I found most of these stories just disheartening. The authors are often getting high, drunk, or just sleeping around rather than truly looking for good relationships. I also think I may have read this in the past b/c many of the stories seem familiar.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    I didn't finish this book, I got 100 pages in and found it pretty dull. I was hoping that it would have been a little more dramatic, sad, heartwrenching, etc. This book was kind of a poor me, random whatever breakups. I didn't find it very interesting. I didn't finish this book, I got 100 pages in and found it pretty dull. I was hoping that it would have been a little more dramatic, sad, heartwrenching, etc. This book was kind of a poor me, random whatever breakups. I didn't find it very interesting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Light and entertaining read. Some stories resonated more than others. Some were throwaways. On the whole, after going through my own bizarre breakup, this book offered some perspective and my situation didn't seem quite as bad. Light and entertaining read. Some stories resonated more than others. Some were throwaways. On the whole, after going through my own bizarre breakup, this book offered some perspective and my situation didn't seem quite as bad.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Strange. I did not enjoy this book at all. I thought it would be funny and entertaining, but it was hard to not let my mind drift to other things... I probably had a better break up story than the ones in the book!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lucysnow1851

    For anyone that has been burned in love. I'm CRAZY about this book!!!! Famous authors revealed their worst relationships in short story form. I loaned it to someone months ago and it hasn't come back. That damned good. For anyone that has been burned in love. I'm CRAZY about this book!!!! Famous authors revealed their worst relationships in short story form. I loaned it to someone months ago and it hasn't come back. That damned good.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    This book was a collection of essays about bad relationships and bad break ups that writers experienced in their 20s. There are some doozies in here and I found myself both laughing and cringing. I'm truly blessed, and am very happy to be out of my 20s, by the way. This book was a collection of essays about bad relationships and bad break ups that writers experienced in their 20s. There are some doozies in here and I found myself both laughing and cringing. I'm truly blessed, and am very happy to be out of my 20s, by the way.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This is an interesting but uneven collection of memoirs about relationships and break-ups.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Great travel/beach book of short essays. The title says it all.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Odd little essays. Think Augusten Burroughs.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Trent

    Like any anthology, some pieces are better than others. The highlight is Lynda Barry's graphic-mini-memoir "Head Lice and My Worst Boyfriend" Like any anthology, some pieces are better than others. The highlight is Lynda Barry's graphic-mini-memoir "Head Lice and My Worst Boyfriend"

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    When a book of short memoirs starts with Junot Diaz you know you are in deep right away, with laughs along with rue.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I kind of give it 2.5 stars. It was just sort of meh.

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