When you hear wonderful David Rakoff's debut novel (coming July 16) spans the entire 20th century yet is only 128 pages, it's easy to assume it was unfinished at his death last August at 47. The more relevant aspect, which the publisher has understandably downplayed, is that the book is a novel in verse. This, and the panoramic timeframe, may also explain David's atypically unwieldy title Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish [Kindle]. Doubleday says,
If you're missing any of his three previous collections of humor essays, stock up now: Fraud [Kindle], Don't Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty [Kindle].
"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."