Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish by David Rakoff
A Novel

81%

10 Critic Reviews

The book is a heartfelt, charmingly profound American epic. At a breezy 113 pages, it charts pretty much the entire 20th century, through a series of interlocking lives.
-NY Times

Synopsis

From the incomparable David Rakoff, a poignant, beautiful, witty, and wise novel in verse whose scope spans the twentieth century

Through his books and his radio essays for NPR's This American Life, David Rakoff has built a deserved reputation as one of the finest and funniest essayists of our time. Written with humor, sympathy, and tenderness, this intricately woven novel proves him to be the master of an altogether different art form.

LOVE, DISHONOR, MARRY, DIE, CHERISH, PERISH leaps cities and decades as Rakoff sings the song of an America whose freedoms can be intoxicating, or brutal. 

The characters' lives are linked to each other by acts of generosity or cruelty. A daughter of Irish slaughterhouse workers in early-twentieth-century Chicago faces a desperate choice; a hobo offers an unexpected refuge on the rails during the Great Depression; a vivacious aunt provides her clever nephew a path out of the crushed dream of postwar Southern California; an office girl endures the casually vicious sexism of 1950s Manhattan; the young man from Southern California revels in the electrifying sexual and artistic openness of 1960s San Francisco, then later tends to dying friends and lovers as the AIDS pandemic devastates the community he cherishes; a love triangle reveals the empty materialism of the Reagan years; a marriage crumbles under the distinction between self-actualization and humanity; as the new century opens, a man who has lost his way finds a measure of peace in a photograph he discovers in an old box—an image of pure and simple joy that unites the themes of this brilliantly conceived work.

Rakoff's insistence on beauty and the necessity of kindness in a selfish world raises the novel far above mere satire.  A critic once called Rakoff "magnificent," a word that perfectly describes this wonderful novel in verse.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About David Rakoff

See more books from this Author
David Rakoff was The New York Times bestselling author of the books Fraud, Don't Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty. A two-time recipient of the Lambda Literary Award and winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, he was a regular contributor to "This American Life." He died in August 2012 at the age of forty-seven, shortly after finishing this book.







Author Residence: New York, NY







Author Hometown: Quebec, Canada
 
Published July 16, 2013 by Doubleday. 128 pages
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish
All: 10 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Paul Rudnick on Aug 01 2013

The book is a heartfelt, charmingly profound American epic. At a breezy 113 pages, it charts pretty much the entire 20th century, through a series of interlocking lives.

Read Full Review of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, C... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Jul 24 2013

Mr. Rakoff was far too young to have left behind this grace note or any other. But future readers can turn to this book to remember why he was so widely appreciated and is sorely missed.

Read Full Review of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, C... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Emma G Keller on Jul 22 2013

With not much writing time left, Rakoff – a well-known contributor to This American Life who died of cancer last year just after finishing the book – managed to create whole characters from a handful of words.

Read Full Review of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, C... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on May 27 2013

Astounding...how effectively an entire century is captured in these slices of daily life—how each era both defines and inspires those within its grasp.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Jul 16 2013

This short but abundantly populated novel in verse had quite an effect on me.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Jul 16 2013

...a rare bird: moving, amusing, lilting, crushing. It pains me to think what else this brilliant writer might have gone on to produce.

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Kirkus

Good
on May 05 2013

Strong work. It deepens the impact that this was the last book completed by the author.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Kevin McFarland on Jul 22 2013

Rakoff’s elliptical connection from the early sections of the novel to the very end is cute, and structurally pleasing, emphasizing the simple thematic underpinning that coincidental ties can bind unlikely groups of people throughout time.

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National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Nathan Whitlock on Jul 26 2013

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish (even the title feels a little stunt-y) never quite overcomes the oddness of its conceit, nor does it manage to carry the weight of being the deathbed production of a beloved author.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Nathan Whitlock on Jul 26 2013

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish doesn’t put Rakoff’s other books in the shade, and there may yet be a posthumous collection of essays that will act as a more fitting end to his brilliant career. This feels more like a fiendishly clever, occasionally awkward and utterly heartfelt final gift from a friend.

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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Karen Russo 5 Sep 2013

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