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Extended Audio Sample Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, by David Rakoff Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Rakoff Narrator: David Rakoff Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The literary rhythm captures the steady momentum of American progress….poignant….beautiful and melancholy….with a final image that made my eyes well up….funny and heartbreaking and, like Rakoff himself, not easy to forget.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Ingenius, delicately haunting…..probing, poignant, and wickedly funny….illuminate[s] the many stages of life.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “Suffused with joyful invention. Readers may come to the book to pay their respects, but they will leave rejuvenated by the splendor of the warmth and wordplay. Composed a hand span’s distance from death, it feels death-defying….irrepressibly funny, and even strangely uplifting, in jubilant verse….If this book must serve as his memorial, it’s at least as life affirming as any that a writer has left behind.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “[A] marvelously barbed novel in verse.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “It’s terrific: a sweeping narrative of the twentieth century that encompasses personal tragedy, family secrets, and broad social movements while going down as easy as a bite of crème brûleé.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Beautiful and heartbreaking....hilarious and lewd and shot through with a longing for life.”

    New York Times

  • “What shines through in this novel, even more than in his nonfiction, is a piercing, wistful appreciation for life, love, and art....deserves to become a classic.....A rare bird: moving, amusing, lilting, crushing."


  • “Truly singular...There is so much bound up in the novel’s singsong verse: stories about AIDS and Alzheimer's, altruism, art, lives linked together by buried incidents that spring up again to bear unexpected fruit."


  • “Reading the new novel in verse by David Rakoff, you can hear his voice again, wordy, so witty, a little worried, and always wise…..His mordant humor, his compassionate vision, his moral questioning, his sharp honesty, they’re all intimately wedded to the meter and the zestful diction of the book…The narrative is ambitious and has sweep…Agile, vivid, and entertaining.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Rakoff’s performance is a treasure. He knows exactly where the stresses should be and is a deft and artful actor as well as writer. That his voice is sometimes soft and his delivery etiolated at points is explained by a brief, moving interview recorded with him and included at the end. I can’t wait to listen to it again. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award and a 2014 Audies finalist.”


  • “Mesmerizing…Combines his wit and his gravity.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Rakoff…brings his thoughtful and tender perspective on life to this wonderfully funny yet heartbreakingly sad novel-in-verse. Throughout this rhyming novel, he crosses decades, telling the great American story through memorable characters loosely linked by acts of kindness or callousness…Each chapter serves up a slice of life’s victories, discoveries, cruelties, and casualties…This novel begs to be read aloud in the mode of Rakoff’s frequent and popular radio appearances on NPR’s This American Life…Fans of the award-winning author will embrace with particular appreciation this final lesson on how to accept life’s blessings and blows.”


  • “A fitting memorial to a humorist whose embrace of life encompassed its dark side…[The book] retains a spirit of sweetness and light, even as mortality and inhumanity provide a subtext…Strong work. It deepens the impact that this was the last book completed by the author.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Barnes & Noble Best Book of July 2013
  • An AudioFile Editors’ Pick in July 2013
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • One of the New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2013
  • Finalist for the 2014 Audie Award for Best Narration by the Author
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
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