Book 42 of 2015
Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, which I will refer to in this post as LDMDCP, is comprised of rhyming, satirical couplets, written by the late This American Life contributor, David Rakoff, a Canadian-born American writer, known for his humorous essays and literature.
The story moves between 1920’s Chicago with a poor, red-headed girl who is mistreated by her step father and moves us along to a poor boy named Clifford who is an aspiring artist, then to Madison Avenue in New York City in the 1950’s and eventually the 1980’s gay scene in San Francisco (including the tragedy surrounding AIDS victims). All of the scenes in the story involve multiple characters overlapping through multiple decades along the way. Reading at only 113 pages, this book is a sharp, entertaining, succinct look at American sorrow, triumphs and social issues over time. Hardships discussed in LDMDCP include rape, Alzheimer’s, wealth vs. poverty, adultery, homophobia and pain around many other issues.
This novel was recommended to me by my husband Ian, and we recently had to opportunity to go see a reading of LDMDCP at the Fleck Theatre at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. Having just finished Rakoff’s book that day, the stories from the novel were still fresh in my mind. The reading didn’t disappoint, either. The actors who read were from Studio 180 and the reading was co-presented by PANAMANIA, for the Pan Am Games. As Entertainment Weekly called LDMDCP, “funny and heartbreaking”, the actors helped to bring to life the liveliness and truth in Rakoff’s verses.
Although Rakoff passed away of cancer before this final book was published, his work has left its mark. Smart, poignant and purposeful, those who read LDMDCP won’t forget it, or Rakoff, for a long time.