by Dave Wheeler
Last year I started out on this venture. It seemed reasonable enough: Blog every two weeks about what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been thinking of while I’ve been reading. Nothing fancy, nothing particularly erudite or mind-blowing or life-changing, just a journal, from one reader to others.
Well, I’ve arrived at the year marker, and I have to say it’s a lot of fun! Most of the time I can recall only as much of what I read as what I eat, but it’s nice to be able to look back and see the kinds of things I read in the last twelve months. And what a year it’s been! Such highs, such lows: We celebrated the big four-oh. The Orphan Master’s Son won the Pulitzer (tragically, at the exact moment the world was learning of the Boston Marathon bombings). Hurricane Sandy hit our friends on the East Coast. I met Chuck Palahniuk, and I fell in love with Alex Dimitrov. If you don’t keep a record of what you read, you might enjoy trying for a while; it’s amazing to look back on sometimes.
When I peer back on the beginning of this blog series, though, I’m reminded that one of my most cherished authors is at the center of that initial post: David Rakoff. He passed precisely one year ago from an ongoing and very public battle with cancer, taking whatever slot I’d reserved for Celebrity Death That Most Impacted My Life.
But I’m happy to say that, just before entering that great, big public radio in the sky, Rakoff finished writing his final book. The improbably titled and thoroughly magnificent Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish is his sole book of fiction and a slender epic in verse. The whole story is written in iambic pentameter, rhyming couplets (because, what the hell, right?), paired with illustrations by Seth, all bound into a gorgeous artifact designed by Chip Kidd.
I love this book. It’s not only a stunning work of fiction, of poetry, of art, but it’s also one of so few books that I want to read aloud. Always. Like I never want to stop reading it aloud, so I can always feel the rhythm and rhymes and be swept away in the magic of it all. It’s like a Broadway musical for readers.
But the magic doesn’t end there, and you should listen close to this: I have one (1), beautifully illustrated, limited edition, 8.5 x 11”, letterpress broadside with an excerpt from Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish to give away (courtesy of Rakoff’s publisher) to whoever writes the best rhyming couplet about David Rakoff. (Iambic pentameter not necessary. “Best” is defined solely as “Dave’s favorite.”) Email your name and couplet to firstname.lastname@example.org before 11pm (PST) on 8/24/13, for your chance to win. The winner will be announced on or around September 1.
In the meantime, we’ve got lots of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish in stock. Happy reading!
UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to Susan H., who sent in this supremely poignant couplet:
I miss David Rakoff, who left us to soon
His art and his writing were never jejune
Thanks, Susan. And enjoy your broadside!