Micro-Review: Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish

Rakoff-Love-Dishonor-MarryLove, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish
by David Rakoff
Doubleday, 2013
113 pages (hardcover)
Source: personal library


If first novels carry the promise of characters and themes to come, last novels have a maturity of spirit and talent. David Rakoff’s final novel, completed just before his death in 2012, spans a century on the American continent, from the Chicago stockyards to sunny California to midtown Manhattan. The characters are linked by birth and chance encounters, enduring human frailties and seeking personal freedoms in environments of violence, confusion, and oppression. Rakoff takes on all the taboo topics from sex to religion with his characteristic humor and straight talk. But this time there’s a twist: the novel is written in rhyming couplets like these: “And so with no warning and no indication, / The years concertina’d; expansion, deflation . . . / Images atomized, sudden dispersals / Time barreled forward, loped back through reversals, / And now, from some darkest recess of his brain / A vision – long lost – of The Girl on the Train.” Whether it pushes your buttons or fills your sails, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish is a reading experience you won’t soon duplicate.

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