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Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  6,561 ratings  ·  1,007 reviews

From the incomparable David Rakoff, a poignant, beautiful, witty and wise novel in verse whose scope spans the 20th Century.

David Rakoff, who died in 2012 at the age of 47,  built a deserved reputation as one of the finest and funniest essayists of our time.  This intricately woven novel, written with humour, sympathy and tenderness, proves him the master of an altogether

Hardcover, 115 pages
Published July 16th 2013 by Doubleday
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Greg Machlin As far as I can tell, in all but *one* case each character directly links to the next one. The broken link in the chain is Clifford to Susan. Eventual…moreAs far as I can tell, in all but *one* case each character directly links to the next one. The broken link in the chain is Clifford to Susan. Eventually we learn that Susan's husband Josh is -very tenuously- connected to Clifford, but every other connection is far more direct.(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,561 ratings  ·  1,007 reviews

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Start your review of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish
Stephanie *Eff your feelings*
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Many of these reviews are in iambic pentameter
I was steadfast in my refusal
To follow the crowd in this banter.

I found it impossible to anything but
I apologize profusely, drink wine that I must
Without it I’d find I’m in a deep, hollow rut.

This book has confounded me to my very core
Listening I was lost
On some far away shore.

‘What the fuck is going on?’
I ask no one in particular
Aloud in public attracts looks unfamiliar.

There’s a girl with red hair, and somehow that’s evil
Is her name Charlotte?
Jan Rice
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing

David Rakoff (right) and friend, from this Huffington Post article

David's an author of whom I'd not heard;
He blew me away with his use of the word.
He plaited and wove them; he worked and he played
Until such a beautiful story he'd made.

It isn't simplistic but quite complicated.
With all sorts of cultural meaning 'tis freighted.
He's covered our mores from the '20s til now
In gems of stories. He's got us--and how!

He eyeballs the hatred of red-headed ladies;
He's there at ground zero--AIDS hits in the
David Katzman
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone, anyone
An elegy for himself, an ode to the capriciousness of life infused with the profound poignancy that David Rakoff died soon after he completed this work. In fact, he had cancer and knew that he was going to die while he was writing this. Which he did at the age of 47.

This is a wonderfully unique book. A poem-novel. Admittedly, the rhyming couplet is not the most elevated form of poetry. It has an inescapable relationship to the limerick. But Rakoff manages to use it in a way that transcends the
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
He did it quite well and to splendid effect --
Anapestic tetrameters? Oh, what the heck!?
And why not write a novel in couplets that rhyme?
The author was dying, but he still had the time.
The meter’s more suited for light-hearted verse,
While these stories often may end with a hearse.
Some rhymes were chosen with a throw of the dice --
For how else could “lice” (pubic) pair with “paradise”?
But I couldn’t put down this rhyming romance --
Poor Clifford, if only he’d zipped up his pants!
And Margaret, the
Larry H
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When I heard David Rakoff's book was written entirely in verse,
I thought to myself, "Could there be anything worse?

"Trying to ascertain plot from each rhyming couplet,
Would it be good enough to be worth all that trouble?" It

Seemed an idea that was rather pretentious,
And struggling with verse can be rather contentious.

But the critics they raved, hailing the book's success,
Saying this was Rakoff at his very best.

The glory of this triumph was somewhat diminished,
By the fact that Rakoff died shortly
Martha Garvey
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful heartache of a book.

Full disclosure, I was lucky enough to be one of David's many friends.

His wit, his kindness, and his gimlet eye are all much in evidence in this book. The book, which spans barely a hundred pages and nearly a hundred years, tells the story of immigrants, nouveau riche, artists, real estate vultures...all, in the end, riven by illness, restored by art. I wish it were longer. I wish David were here. #DavidRakoff
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ovels in verse don't come around often
Some imagine Homer put the idea in a coffin.
Sure there was Milton and Pushkin oh dear,
The very idea strikes readers with fear.
But the truth is that long form verse
Can be fun, poems need not be terse!
The werewolves of "Sharp Teeth" proved awfully fun,
As a gift that's one book I've given away a ton,
And not one receivers ever complained,
Or about joy it delivered just merely feigned.

As for Rakoff's novel, readers shouldn't feel fright
When it comes to this volume
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, poetry, 2013
As a book—an object—this is wonderful. The design was done by Chip Kidd, with illustrations by the cartoonist Seth. It's beautiful to look at, and the illustrations of the characters at the beginning of each section are lovely and help you navigate the story.

The eccentricity of writing a novel in verse is staggering, and the result is delicious. I tend to read too fast, gulping down the words to follow the plot. This style slows me down, and makes me appreciate the book more. The vignettes of ch
Matthew Fitzgerald
I don't know if I can divorce myself from the knowledge that this is Rakoff's last book; from the emotion of knowing I can't bear to listen to the audio book, and hear that pithy, keen, lively voice I loved on This American Life shriveled into the breathy, cancer-sick narrator of this final volume. I'll gladly settle for the dead-tree version, and hear the timeless vigor of Rakoff's voice in my head.

And what a voice! I never would have imagined I'd enjoy a book in rhyming couplets, but Rakoff pu
Hannah Greendale
A collection of stories told in clever rhyme,
Like an adult spin on Shel Silverstein,
Yet there's nothing quite like this marvelous book;
Therefore, I declare, "You must take a look!"
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A novel told in verse? This type of thing usually makes me want to claw my eyes out. I'm a serious skeptic: is this a gimmick? -pretentious? -a plea for attention? Normally, I'd say yes, but Rakoff is amazingly magical here. The story of several folks who are loosely connected, these short pieces have the feeling of pulling back a curtain in order to sneak a peek into someone else's (sometimes intensely) private moments.

The verse form itself requires an unyielding, unforgiving adherence to langu
Conor Ahern
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
When our book club proposed this book, I initially voted for it. When I came to this website and saw that it was in verse, I immediately recanted my vote.

But, when it won out anyway, I read it (while also listening to it to establish the stanchion), and really liked it. So did everyone else. Do yourself a favor and read this charming, short book!
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq
Other than being familiar with Rakoff's essays and his style of writing - I guess somewhat familiar - I had no expectation of this. I didn't know what to expect: not only is this different in that it is fiction, it's also rhyming couplets. I worried that the style would detract from my enjoyment - that I'd be so focused on the format that I'd miss the story. I didn't and I wasn't.

I don't know if this is relevant, but every few pages I'd turn to the author image at the back. David painting someth
This is a disturbing book. There's wit but it's biting and often bitter. The same could be said for Rakoff's humor. His writing is psychologically insightful yet condemnatory but there are some attitudes that should be condemned. He tells his stories in sly verse; his rhymes are purposely bad at times, the cadence forced and the topics crude even close to pornographic. Many have compared his wit to Oscar Wilde's and that's apt though I've never enjoyed Wilde's wit and didn't particularly enjoy R ...more
Dennis Diehl
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I suggest reading this beautifully rendered, breathtaking mosaic of a novel (in verse) in one sitting. David Rakoff could not have left us with a more fitting gift.

As the pages grow thin and in sets the pain,
One must come to grips that dear David is gone once again.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
David Rakoff's remains the only "celebrity" death over which I have shed actual tears. There is something about his work (especially when listened to) that just made me feel this absurd connection with someone who I, in reality, knew not at all. As a result, it took me a while to be able to read this posthumously published collection.

In rhyming meter Rakoff tackles everything from cuckoldry, to sexual assault, homophobia and the AIDS epidemic. His reflections on death are made all the more poig
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I got this in the mail today and am so excited! I love the unique cover and am glad I opted not to get the e-book version. This is right up my alley; I love rhyme and this is a whole story told in verse. It looks like the kind that's better when read aloud...

Update: I loved this! I'd write this review in verse, but I'm still in awe of Rakoff's accomplishment. I'm heartbroken that there won't be any more from this talented writer, as he died of cancer after finishing this book. He tells a story o
Oct 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
David Rakoff was a bright writer, still finding his way, when he died. "Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish" was published posthumously. I can't help but wonder if that may be responsible for the many glowing reviews this disjointed little book has received. Perhaps its rhyme scheme helped, too.

Rhyme scheme? That's right. "Love, Dishonor ..." is written in rhyming couplets, though without any of the other conventions that I associate with long works of poetry. No consistent meter, no ass
Lorri Steinbacher
I can't say I wasn't skeptical: a novel written in rhyming couplets? Sounds corny. Granted, if anyone could pull it off it would be David Rakoff, but still, I was scared knowing that this was the last thing I would read from him, knowing that I wanted so very much to love it...and yet still doubting. Doubting was wasted energy. Not only does this work, it is sublime. He packs more love and understanding of human nature in one couplet than some writers manage in a career. his love of language is ...more
I "read" this book by attending a marathon reading of it by more than 60 of David's friends and family. Of course, it was a moving event, but what it showed me about the book was how much joy and laughter was in it, even though it is so brief and mournful. I thought, foolishly, how easy it must have been to write a book of simple rhyming couplets, but now I realize that one must be a master of all language to do it with such ease. ...more
Juliana Gray
Jan 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
Ugh. There's a line between "clever" and "smug," and this book crosses it. I could practically feel the author smirking as I endured some of these rhymes (and the sentence fragments, and the run-ons). The best thing I can say about this book is that it was short. ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
impossibly great. and in verse!
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Overlapping vignettes in rhyming verse; a quite clever and entertaining commentary on 20th century life. This book was posthumously published, but fortunately for us, Rakoff recorded the audio in the This American Life studio - with Ira Glass - prior to his death.
David Hallman
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
August - the month from heaven and hell for David Rakoff and me.

I write this personal reflection on the late gay writer David Rakoff's final book in a month of anniversaries in Rakoff’s life and my own.

David Rakoff died of cancer on August 9, 2012 at the age of 47. His novel, the brilliant “Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish” written entirely in rhyming couplet verse, was published posthumously and became available in August 2013. He was working on this book, in which he invested so m
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Many people have attempted it, but David Rakoff actually did it. He has written the proverbial "Great American Novel." What's more, he has written it in verse. Even more, he has written it in verse that actually rhymes. And still more, the verse is not knowing, or tendentious, or cynical, but human and funny. Move over Fitzgerald and Nathaniel West. Make room on the shelf for a new classic.

Hemingway instructed that to write you must first "write one true sentence." I never understood what Hemin
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Cheers to those who managed to do their reviews in verse as well. I'm not quite so ambitious, but I absolutely adored this beautiful, witty and ultimately heartbreaking "novel in verse".

I first heard Rakoff use this trope on a "This American Life" where he played the role of Dr. Seuss exchanging letters with Gregor Samsa about Samsa's plight. Obviously Seuss spoke only in verse and the effect was absolutely charming. I had my doubts about whether it would transfer to novel form, but Rakoff nail
Ed Erwin
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Loved this! Read it twice in a row (partly on audio, partly in text). Don't really know what else to say!

I'm not big on poetry, but the concept of a serious novel written entirely rhyming couplets with the same beat scheme that Dr. Seuss frequently used was just too strange to pass up!

I often have trouble with poetry because I get so caught-up in paying attention to the beats and rhymes that I lose track of the story. That never happened here. The scheme is simple enough to not distract me.

I don
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
David's best work of prose.

A brief yet humanistic story told in the classic style of Fitzgerald with the prose of a Shakespearean couplet.

The book is a touching story with rhyming prose laden with humor and humanity.

Sad to think what else he could have produced had he lived longer.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Instead of finding the book's verse alarming
the author's paired couplets were utterly charming
the rhythm keeps beating inside of my head
after reading; this is nothing to dread
Kate Quinn
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know who David Rakoff was until a few years ago when I was driving around on a Saturday afternoon flipping through the radio stations. I know what to expect from NPR during the weekday rush hour (mostly news) and on weekend mornings (Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and Car Talk), but maybe their weekend afternoon schedule is less nailed down, or perhaps I am just incapable of absorbing it, but when I flipped to NPR and heard someone talking I wasn't sure what exactly I was listening to. Fingers ...more
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David Rakoff (November 27, 1964 – August 9, 2012) was an essayist, journalist, and actor. Originally from Canada, Rakoff was a graduate of Columbia University, he obtained dual Canadian-American citizenship in 2003, and resided for much of his life in New York City. His brother Simon is a stand-up comedian.

Rakoff wrote for the New York Times Magazine, Outside, GQ, Vogue and Salon. He was a frequen

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“Being a stranger was like being dead,
and brought to mind how, in a book he had read
that most folks misunderstood one common state:
The flip side of love is indifference, not hate.”
“If all of the money was gone from my life,
Would you still love me?" a man asks his wife.
"Of course," she replies. "Come here, let me kiss you.
I'll love you forever, but boy would I miss you!”
More quotes…