Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish
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
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?
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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 ...more
And what a voice! I never would have imagined I'd enjoy a book in rhyming couplets, but Rakoff ...more
The verse form itself requires an unyielding, unforgiving adherence to ...more
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!
I don't know if this is relevant, but every few pages I'd turn to the author image at the back. David painting ...more
As the pages grow thin and in sets the pain,
One must come to grips that dear David is gone once again.
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
Hemingway instructed that to write you must first "write one true sentence." I never understood what ...more
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 ...more
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.
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.
I first learned about "Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish" from Paul Rudnick writing for the New York Times Book Review:
[...]I should hate this book...more
Rakoff wrote for the New York Times Magazine, Outside, GQ, Vogue and Salon. He was a ...more
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.”
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!”