I just started reading the late David Rakoff’s last book, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, and it’s positively breathtaking. As with all posthumous work, the novel is enhanced by the knowledge that Rakoff wrote it during his last months alive. But in its own right, Love, Dishonor is brimming with witty and precise storytelling. Written entirely in rhyming couplets, the novel follows the lives of various Americans throughout the 20th century. Paul Rudnick at the New York Times calls it “a heartfelt, charmingly profound American epic.”
Of course, poetry is #awkward and the idea of an entire novel of rhymes might seem ludicrous, maybe even downright alarming. But it works. Rakoff uses the constraints of his particular verse – anapestic tetrameter, according to the New Yorker – to jolt and delight the reader with unexpected flourishes of vocabulary. He manages to sustain a feeling of playfulness throughout an inherently predictable verse structure, and the result feels bold, messy, and so so joyful. Buy a copy – it’s a quick read, and a wonderful one.