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Image Hosted by Tonight on TDS, Sarah Vowell, promoting David Rakoff's posthumous Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel ; and on TCR, Jeff Bridges, RIPD.
sausage grinder of snark

From the NYTimes:
Love’s Labors, Published
David Rakoff’s Last Deadline

David Rakoff’s third book of essays, “Half Empty,” came out in the fall of 2010, nine months after he learned that the pain he’d been experiencing in his left arm and shoulder was the result of a malignant sarcoma. David was an extraordinary essayist — the book won the Thurber Prize for American Humor, and, like his two previous collections, was a best seller — so it came as some surprise when he called his editor at Doubleday to say that he wanted his next book to be a novel written in rhyme.

“I will admit I paused for a very long time,” Bill Thomas, the editor, said recently. “A novel in verse. But David was extremely passionate about the project. He’d been ruminating on it for a decade. This was late 2010, and of course he was quite sick at this point; he’d been battling cancer for some time. But with a writer of David’s caliber, who I personally loved and admired very much, I just said, ‘O.K., we’ll figure out a way to publish it.’ ”

For the next year and a half, David wrote, between surgeries and chemotherapy regimens and in the face of the growing awareness that his cancer, as he put it, “would not be denied.” The process of writing had always been an exercise in anguish management for him (he once said in an interview that writing was like having his teeth pulled out — through his penis), but to me and other friends, this book seemed different. He discussed the fate of his characters, he read passages to visitors from his bed, he sent e-mails saying he was feeling good because the writing had gone well that day.

The last time I had dinner with David, about six weeks before he died, he was so weak that it was impossible to imagine him mustering the strength to work. But he was so close, he said. “I need to finish it, and then I’ll be ready.”

A week later, the book was done. “He rang me up and said, ‘The good news is, I have actually finished before my deadline’ — which is an unusual call to get from an author,” Mr. Thomas said. “And then he said, ‘The bad news is, you’ll be publishing it posthumously.’ I read the manuscript and knew right away it was something exceptional. He poured his — I mean this literally — he poured his life into it: his ideas, his thoughts, his wit, his graciousness, his sense of tragedy. And he mastered this very difficult form.”

B&N (has several reviews, including Kirkus:)
This short novel of rhyming verse might be better read aloud, if only the author were still alive to read it. The late essayist for NPR's This American Life, Rakoff (Half Empty, 2010, etc.) was accustomed to writing for the ear, but never has his writing seemed more designed to be heard than here. The posthumous publication provides a fitting memorial to a humorist whose embrace of life encompassed its dark side and who died of cancer in 2012 at age 47. Written in anapestic tetrameter--most familiar from " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and most commonly associated with light comedy--this novel of interlocking stories nevertheless deals with rape, abortion, adultery, homophobia, AIDS, dementia and death. It's like a child's bedtime story that you would never read to children, yet it retains a spirit of sweetness and light, even as mortality and inhumanity provide a subtext to the singsong. "If it weren't so tragic, it could have been farce," he writes of an early blooming 12-year-old girl who attracts plenty of unwanted attention, including that of her brutish stepfather, and then finds herself blamed before escaping to something of a happy ending. The bittersweet center of the novel is a young boy who discovers both his artistic talent and his homosexuality, lives a life that is both rich and short, and dies just a little younger than the author did. Some of the rhymes read like doggerel ("crime it...climate," "Naugahyde...raw inside") and some of the laughs seem a little forced, but the author brings a light touch to deadly serious material, finding at least a glimmer of redemption for most of his characters. Strong work. It deepens the impact that this was the last book completed by the author.
Assorted at NPR
Random House (Publisher)
Boston Globe review
EW review
Massive change of pace:
Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds headline the 3D supernatural action-adventure R.I.P.D. as two cops dispatched by the otherworldly Rest In Peace Department to protect and serve the living from an increasingly destructive array of souls who refuse to move peacefully to the other side. Veteran sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Bridges) has spent his career with the legendary police force known as R.I.P.D. tracking monstrous spirits who are cleverly disguised as ordinary people. His mission? To arrest and bring to justice a special brand of criminals trying to escape final judgment by hiding among the unsuspecting on Earth. Once the wise-cracking Roy is assigned former rising-star detective Nick Walker (Reynolds) as his junior officer, the new partners have to turn grudging respect into top-notch teamwork. When they uncover a plot that could end life as we know it, two of R.I.P.D.'s finest must miraculously restore the cosmic balance...or watch the tunnel to the afterlife begin sending angry souls the very wrong way.(c) Universal
That's from RottenTomatoes, which doesn't have a rating yet. A quick survey of titles on google news suggest that 1) headline writers are mostly incapable of resisting the chance to use "RIPD DOA?" , and/or 2) it'll be a flop (found a "set to kill" out there, too).

Assorted other links:
movie site
movie wikipedia
Jeff Bridges wikipedia
Jeff Bridges twitter

Next Week
Mo 7/22: Louis C.K.
Tu 7/23: Richard Haass
We 7/24: Shailene Woodley
Th 7/25: Bob Bradley

Mo 7/22: Kjerstin Gruys
Tu 7/23: Kenneth Goldsmith
We 7/24: Anant Agarwal
Th 7/25: Olympia Snowe

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