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Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems Paperback – September 12, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Humorist and social critic Rakoff (Fraud) skewers everything from high society to lowbrow politics in this collection of trenchant essays about American culture's excesses and deficiencies. His understated, suave delivery has endeared him to throngs of public-radio fans, and it's an excellent foil for setting up his frequently stinging brand of ridicule. Like David Sedaris, Rakoff's smart writing is elevated by reading his own material, including his hilariously imagined rejoinder to fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. Rakoff clearly writes from a liberal perspective, but his most important viewpoint is that of the savvy and often affronted outsider, whether taking wing amid the opulence of the Concorde or being offered wings in the markedly less elegant comforts of Hooters Air. Whatever the case, his deadpan style and barbed observations bring more than a few targets down to earth.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I greatly enjoyed his humorous, observant style of writing. He entertained me while enlightening me on what it would be like to go on a late-night scavenger hunt through New York City, for example. Some reviewers seemed to have the wrong expectation about what this book was about. I didn't feel like Rakoff had made it his "goal" to delve into American excess; I just think that this was the general theme that tied these essays together. This wasn't meant to be a thesis explaining "This is why Americans are the way they are." These essays are just Rakoff's observations on the ironic quirks of American culture. I just enjoyed the essays for what they were without expecting him to give me a sociological explanation for what was behind everything he wrote about. People who were expecting that were reading the wrong book.
Some other reviewers have criticized Rakoff's delivery when he read his book for the audio CD. In my opinion, his manner of speaking ADDED to my enjoyment of his work. It helped me imagine him in all of the situations he was in. Because he's gay, he can take a detached, third-party view of the soft-core photo shoot he witnesses at the luxury resort, as well as the Hooters Air flight he takes. He's observing the ironies of these situations, but not distracted by the women's "physical charms." Can you imagine a more macho, "man's man" performance of these essays by a different narrator giving you the same impression of the absurdity Rakoff feels in these situations? No, Rakoff is what he is, and his narration comes off to me as true to how it would sound as an anecdote he'd share when talking to a friend. So, I, for one, hope he continues to be the reader of his own work, for audiobook purposes.
Also, to those who complain that Rakoff shouldn't criticize America because he's Canadian by birth, I think that this gives him a unique perspective that has merit. He had lived (legally) in America for many years before he became a U.S. citizen, and he seemed to consider New York City to be his home. Just because he has complaints about the naturalization process, as well as darkly humorous opinions about the eccentricities of Americans, doesn't mean that he completely regrets becoming a U.S. citizen. I would think that people who give up citizenship in the country they were born in often have misgivings along the way (and afterward) that they might be making a mistake. That's a pretty life-changing decision to have made, and his honesty in feeling kind of like a stranger in a strange land is natural. Especially when you have serious concerns about the politics of your adopted nation's leader.
I look forward to Rakoff's next book, because his unique take on our society can make us think about what seems normal to us, while making us laugh at his turn of phrase at the same time.
These essays are delivered with Rakoff's customary grandiloquence. The man is unrelenting in his bunker-busting esoterica.
Get a load of this salvo on page 26: "...one of those Capraesque anecdotes full of lachrymose inanities..."
The tales are much about and indeed imbued with Rakoff's own psycho-analytico-ruminations, and maybe that's OK, because his creatively Johnsonian prose is just so enthralling. The man can handle the Queen's English, and then some.
Rakoff serves up a wickedly abstruse brand of satire to be relished only by those endowed with a more than adequate lexicon. It also helps to be well versed in current affairs and in the pop culture. Consider the following: Rakoff is attending a Fashion Show in Paris. He spies actor George Hamilton in the audience, and describes him as being "...tandooried to a fare-thee-well..." This mischievously metaphorical broadside of Hamilton's legendary tan sent me into a burst of laughter. But you wouldn't be in on the humor, unless you've seen George Hamilton, and feasted on Tandoori Chicken at your local Indian eatery. And so it goes. You either get it, or you don't.
There are good stories in this book, but some not as moving as to be retold.
Four stars because one has to appreciate such gift in writing as the one possessed by David Rakoff. I'm looking forward to the next installment.
So if you're a Liberal, you're in for a real treat.