We Won't Get Too Comfortable, David
I fell in love with David Rakoff's writing when my friend, Ron, told me that he thought David and I were alike in our cynicism, pessimism and (I suppose) in utilizing them to get a laugh. Shortly after that, I received all of David's books in the mail; my friend decided I should find out for myself.
Well, of course, propriety requires me to say he was wrong. But I secretly delighted in thinking that Ron might occasionally think of me when he read or heard David Rakoff. After all, I thought, since I admire Ron for his intelligence and judgment, couldn't I make a few personal tweaks and arrive safely in Rakoff territory? (The answer is no.) And while reading Rakoff's books for myself, I couldn't help asking whether I might be better off if I could mimic his approach toward life and his fellow human beings. (The answer is yes.) David Rakoff was a great pessimist, but much of his writing has such a gracious tone that even when he wrote about a fool, whether it was himself or someone else, there was a whiff of forgiveness.
His essays often end like old 1940s serials -- with a sense of "that's it for now, but we'll revisit this topic later and see where we stand. Tune in next week for the further adventures of this American cynic."
But now we're on our own. We'll have to finish our stories without David Rakoff's witty and gentle wisdom. If you've never read a Rakoff title, pick one up and you may meet a new friend. If you've read David's essays, maybe it's time to visit an old friend. Check out Half Empty; Fraud or Don't Get Too Comfortable.
Goodbye, David -- and thanks for judging us.
Find a touching video of one of David's last public readings here.
Read "This American Life" colleague Ira Glass's tribute to Rakoff here.