Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff

David Rakoff’s new essay collection examines everything from universal themes (greed, vanity, insecurity, wisdom) to unique phenomenon (cyronic suspension, gay Republicans, Puppetry of the Penis, plastic surgery).  While detached and cynical in his approach, Rakoff is genuinely curious about the world in which we live, a world that promises great things but doesn’t always succeed in delivering them.  His writing is sharp and funny, but a bit “colder” than fellow essayist David Sedaris, a writer to whom he is sometimes compared. 

Dont_get My favorite essay, “Love It Or Leave It,” recalls the day upon which the Canadian-born author became an American citizen.  Ironically, while “voting” is declared the most important right granted to U.S. citizens, there are no voter registration forms available at the INS building that day.  He is told that a church group used to hand them out until they ran out of money.  “A church group?” he asks incredulously.  “Why isn’t there a form clipped to my naturalization certificate?  It is not difficult to see something insidious about this oversight while standing in this sea of humanity, the majority of whom are visible minorities.” 

Rakoff’s essay on the joy of making crafts a la Martha Stewart is delightful (“Giving someone an art project might appear very generous on the surface, but, in another sense, it’s an act of bullying. More than a store-bought gift, it’s an attempt to curate someone else’s taste.”), as is his piece on standing outside the Today Show studio with a crowd of revelers.  Other essays, such as the one in which he works as a “Pool Ambassador” at a swanky South Beach resort, fall flat.  Still, Don’t Get Too Comfortable is a worth your time.  And while you’re at it, check out Your Call Is Important To Us: The Truth About Bullshit by fellow Canadian curmudgeon Laura Penny, or anything by David Sedaris; you wont be disappointed.   

(Karen Favreau, Hemphill Library)

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