A novel…in verse?

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Remember that terrible, boring, endless poem your English teacher made you read in high school? The words were archaic, the rhymes didn’t make sense because pronunciation had changed, and the characters were all freaks.

So it’s fair to associate stories told in verse with horribleness. But you shouldn’t, because David Rakoff made the verse epic cool again:

She was certainly never an expert at men,

But an inkling was twinkling, especially when

The next day he all but confirmed Helen’s hunch

When he leaned from his office and asked her to lunch.

Their talk was all awkward and formal to start

He said that he found her efficient and smart.

She thanked him, then stopped, she was quite at a loss.

She’d never before really talked to her boss.

That is the goddamn tip of the iceberg. The novel tells the story of lives that DO genuinely intersect (there’s nothing worse than a bunch of POVs with only tangential relationships to each other). It spans the best part of a century. And every freaking bit rhymes.

The characters, their pain, and they haunting humanness all feel real. They may have followed you after any novel. But the way it’s told, the effect of the rhyme, makes the book into an experience. Like a smell, or a taste, when you open the book again everything will come rushing back to you. A few verses and you’ll remember all the joys and sorrows of the novel. And you’ll think in rhyme for hours.

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