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Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish...

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 20th-century Chicago faces a desperate choice; a hobo offers an unexpected refuge on the rails during the Great Depression; a vivacious aunt offers her clever nephew a path out of the crushed dream of post-war 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 which perfectly describes this wonderful novel in verse.

Copyright Irene Skolnick Literary Agency 2016