The inimitably witty David Rakoff, New York Times best-selling author of Don’t Get Too Comfortable, defends the commonsensical notion that you should always assume the worst, because you’ll never be disappointed.
In this deeply funny (and, no kidding, wise and poignant) book, Rakoff examines the realities of our sunny, gosh everyone-can-be-a-star contemporary culture and finds that, pretty much as a universal rule, the best is not yet to come, adversity will triumph, justice will not be served, and your dreams won’t come true.
The book ranges from the personal to the universal, combining stories from Rakoff’s reporting and accounts of his own experiences: the moment when being a tiny child no longer meant adults found him charming but instead meant other children found him a fun target; the perfect late evening in Manhattan when he was young and the city seemed to brim with such possibility that the street shimmered in the moonlight—as he drew closer he realized the streets actually flickered with rats in a feeding frenzy. He also weaves in his usual brand Oscar Wilde-worthy cultural criticism (the tragedy of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, for instance).
Whether he’s lacerating the musical Rent for its cutesy depiction of AIDS or dealing with personal tragedy, his sharp observations and humorist’s flair for the absurd will have you positively reveling in the power of negativity.
©2010 David Rakoff (P)2010 Random House Audio
"A collection of humorous—albeit pessimistic—essays on humankind’s incalculable foibles......Throughout the book, the author hones in on this disconnect, debunking the myth of the power of positive thinking while arguing that 'the bleak' (not the meek) will most likely inherit the earth." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Maintaining his signature and singular charm, Rakoff analyzes the heck out of common (and not-so-common) place culture....a writerly collection to make giddy even the most erudite lover of words." (Booklist)
“Rakoff’s strength is the turn of phrase that deftly and wittily dissects its subject at a stroke.” (Chicago Tribune)
David Rakoff's reading is so strong that to listen to him read this book aloud is actually a richer experience than reading it to oneself. I really enjoyed it, and highly recommend it.
When I heard of David's passing, it was a like a very close friend of mine had died. I never met him, but I knew him so well through his books. His essays take you along on the journey of his life with all its laughter, tears and ironies. Reading his own words, he takes you inside his head, and in this book, through his struggle with cancer that took his life. Don't be afraid to make David your friend, to laugh and cry with him as he exposes the absurdities of our culture with wit and insight. Read his works and he will always be with you.
Listening to Rakoff made the book feel much more intimate and real. I don't think I would have read his cancer story the way he reads it, and it was touching, sad, and funny all at the same time.
If you know David Rakoff's story, and are aware of his recent death, the book is heartbreaking and also a celebration of a great talent. Having heard him on This American Life many times, listening to this book was a great tribute to an amazing talent.
David Rakoff's writing and narration are delightful. I think this is the best of the three audio books he's published to date. Say yes to the power of negativity!
David Rakoff as a narrator can only be taken in small doses; he is lugubrious, monotonous, boring. His writing, on the other hand, is lovely, challenging, and well worth the time.
Probably--it's a wittier version of Augustine Burroughs with no smut. But I like Burroughs--this is even better.
A wonderful inflection of voice.
This one ranks in my top 5.
David Rakoff is able to deliver a lighthearted take on his, seemimgly, innermost thoughts.
We lost Mr. Rakoff last month. While I never met him, through his books, I feel like I knew him and I will miss him and his works.
I can see how this might not be a book for everyone. Make sure to listen to the sample before buying. David Rakoff had a most unique voice and I loved it but it can be grating to some people. Also optimistic or sunny happy people might not love the dark negative betty loveliness that David just embraces fully and completely. He was an artist and the world is a little less bright because he is gone.
How good it is to have the late David Rakoff reading his own revealing, acidly funny essays. The man was an actor as well as a brilliant, insightful humorist, and there is no better way to be introduced to him and his work than by listening to this priceless recording.
Rakoff is not to be lumped in with Sedaris. His tone is far more dark, and his love of the English language leaps to the fore. People don't write like this anymore; the elegance of his style and the aptness of his observations put one in mind of Robert Benchley.
This was a first for me. I wish he were around to give us more.
It's a collection of unrelated essays, so this question is not germane.
It's unusual that works read by the author actually turn out well. Rakoff 's (RIP) reading of Half Empty added and did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the book- a collection of hilarious essays on issues of the day. Rakoff's droll narration matched the witty and enjoyably cynical commentary.
Rakoff is much like the other "David", David Sedaris, who has entertained us for years on NPR.
This is a quick and enjoyable listen.
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