From Publishers Weekly
The title of this collection of humorous essays could also serve as a warning label for its readers. They'll want to stay on guard as GQ
writer-at-large Rakoff (Fraud
) skewers everything and everyone he encounters. His writing is at its best when trained on the pompous and ostentatious: flying on the Concorde or visiting an exclusive, $1,300-a-night resort off Belize. While attending the Paris couture shows, Rakoff reveals the silliness of the whole enterprise with quips about Karl Lagerfeld's pre–weight loss "large doughy rump" and the "dry spaghetti" of one model's hair. In another piece, a prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon tells Rakoff, "this is the Dark Ages" for cosmetic surgery (meaning that future generations will be amazed by the inevitable advances) before taking him into an examination room. While Rakoff's sardonic wit is clearly his greatest asset, it is sometimes his undoing; the same dry humor that works so well when aimed at the rich and decadent seems mean-spirited when applied to less prominent targets, like "Wildman" Steve Brill, who forages for food in New York City's parks. Still, Rakoff is generally a knowing observer of "first world problems," and his devilishly uncomfortable commentaries are generally quite funny.
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The belly laughs start on page 7 and occur regularly throughout Rakoff's frequently impertinent, occasionally irascible, yet always inimitable take on contemporary American society. A newly minted U.S. citizen, a process he reveals in all its maddeningly hypocritical inconsistency, Rakoff embarks on a series of journalistic assignments as peculiar in their phantasmagoric diversity as, well, America itself. From the pretentious preoccupation with gourmet dining to the rigor of fasting, Rakoff contemplates the extremes to which we will go in pursuit of our particular, often downright peculiar pleasures. A trip on the Concorde is followed by a jaunt on Hooters Air, and visits to Beverly Hills plastic surgeons segue seamlessly into a tour of a cryogenics storage facility in Arizona. Whether interpreting popular culture or investigating political calumny, Rakoff's cogent observations are delivered with a comforting mixture of appropriate moral outrage and unabashed mocking wonder, as he unfailingly elicits the inherent truths behind our most cherished and churlish institutions. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved