Somewhere along the line, our healthy self-regard has exploded into obliterating narcissism; our manic getting and spending have now become celebrated as moral virtues. Whether contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the good-times-and-chicken-wings populism of Hooters Air, working as a cabana boy at a South Beach hotel, or traveling to a private island off the coast of Belize to watch a soft-core video shoot, where he is provided with his very own personal manservant, Rakoff takes us on a bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess. He comes away from his explorations hilariously horrified.
At once a Wildean satire of our ridiculous culture of overconsumption and a plea for a little human decency, Don't Get Too Comfortable shows that far from being bobos in paradise, we're in a special circle of gilded-age hell.
©2005 David Rakoff; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Rakoff knows the incantatory power of a story well-told, the art of keeping words aloft like the bubbles in a champagne flute. He possesses the crackling wit of a '30s screwball comedy ingenue, a vocabulary that is a treasure chest of mots justes, impressive but most times not too showy for everyday wear." (Los Angeles Times)
I love all this author's stories, which I must hear, rather than read, because his voice is so important to the personal quality of his work. I highly recommend all David Rakoff's print and audio books, but if you need to make a choice between this and his audio collection before this one, choose this one; it's a bit more full of the good stuff. He gets better all the time.
For anyone who thinks this essay collection is "about George Bush", well, they certainly didn't listen very long. Only a very few of the pieces are particularly political, and in each case they reflect ways in which current American policies have impact the life of the author. That's what a collection of personal essays is suppose to be about!
Rakoff does a flawless job of skewering many ripe subjects, including the fashion industry, Martha Stewart and the people who froze Ted Williams's head. He has a reporter's observational skills and a humorist's compassionate delivery. Having him read his own work is a lovely plus; Mr Rakoff's concise speech and delicate timbre make for an easy, hilarious listen. I also bought two copies in paperback which I loan out carefully ALL the time.
I purchased this audiobook after seeing Rakoff on the Daily Show - I have rarely been as pleased with a purchase as I have been with Rakoff's work. I purchased the books for my daughter, and have read the essays that do not appear in the audio version, and I am so much happier listening to Rakoff reading. Thankfully, when I read his books myself, I can hear his voice in my head. He strikes the Perfect Tone on each topic. I've read the other suggested books in this genre and although they are enjoyable, they don't come close to Rakoff's work.
Rakoff suffers for his craft and we benefit - a behind the scenes look at the day in the life style journalist and his real life shortcomings. Unabashed and unapologetic, painfully aware of his place in the world and always able to see the humor i any situation, this collection of stories is a great listen, well narrated and had me laughing until I cried several times. I loved his first effort "Fraud" and his appearances on "This American Life" but one need not be a lifelong Rakoff fan to be delighted by these tales.
Even the subtitle for the book is funny, "The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems". Check it out.
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It broke my heart to listen to this, knowing he had spent such a long time being ill. But on the other hand, its a piece of his wonderful wry legacy and I for that I am grateful.
Rakoff's observations about the state of American culture are amusing, sometimes rapier sharp, and quite thoughtful.
If only he hadn't read the book himself. His voice is more than a little annoying, a sort of pastel scraping.
Flawed also by being overwritten, a flowery elaboration that is at times almost poetic, at other times just silly.
Worth a listen, in my book, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it enthusiastically.
Eloquent, wry, and brutally honest, the author takes us on a journey that forces us to discard our half-baked presumptions and petty prejudices, and consider a worldview that beckons us to take a closer, second look at our over-indulgent, mega-consumption, sense of entitlement and ignorance. Writing and narrating with rapid-fire, tongue in cheek, eloquence, the author paints a picture of decadence and misguided ambitions that leaves one both laughing and crying at times. Often aloof and uncomfortable in his environment, he tempers his sparsely sprinkled political diatribes and infrequent ad hominem jabs, with genuine humor and moments of real humanity and insight - always somehow delivering the challenge to see beyond our homophobic, bigoted, and often over-simplified view of society and world affairs, and to finally push away from the dinner table before we need a bucket. For a fresh and entirely different angle, I highly recommend this book.
One reviewer writes "Liberal, gay", as if this is enough to tell one all one needs to know about why the book is bad. Personally, I find liberals a much more decent and pleasant lot than conservatives. I do not care one wit about a person's sexual orientation, as long as they understand the word "no". The author is writing about the decadence of America. And it is true. Our society has gotten to the point where we have to create stress and difficulties for entertainment (Survivor, the Apprentice, the list goes on), and we have a great proportion of our society overweight. We drive gas guzzlers and state that it is our right.
Is it wrong to fault us for this? I think not. If you spend any time in other countries, you quickly realize how spoiled American's are, and how we feel it is our right, not a privilege.
This book is not for all, and neither are Ann Coulter's books. Be forewarned.
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