The Indignities of Coach Class, the Torments of Low Thread Count, the Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems
David Rakoff’s collection of autobiographical essays, Fraud, established him as one of our funniest, most insightful writers. In Don’t Get Too Comfortable, Rakoff journeys into the land of plenty that is contemporary North America. Rarely have greed, vanity, selfishness, and vapidity been so mercilessly and wittily portrayed.
Whether contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the good times and chicken wings of Hooters Air, portraying the rarified universe of Paris fashion shows where an evening dress can cost as much as four years of college, or traveling to a private island off the coast of Belize to watch a soft-core Playboy TV shoot, where he is provided with his very own personal manservant, David Rakoff takes us on a bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess, delving into the manic getting and spending that defines the North American way of life.
Somewhere along the line, our healthy self-regard has exploded into obliterating narcissism, and Rakoff is there to map that frontier. He sits through the grotesqueries of “avant garde” vaudeville in Times Square immediately following 9/11. Twenty days without food allows him to experience firsthand the wonders of “detoxification,” and the frozen world of cryonics, whose promise of eternal life is the ultimate status symbol, leaves him very cold indeed (much to our good fortune).
At once a Wildean satire of our ridiculous culture of overconsumption and a plea for a little human decency, Don’t Get Too Comfortable is a bitingly funny grand tour of our special circle of gilded-age hell.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
As a Montreal expat, David Rakoff observed turn-of-the-millennium American life with an outsider’s wry detachment. The comic essays in Don’t Get Too Comfortable cover topics both public and personal, from the re-election of George W. Bush and the cultural impact of Martha Stewart to attempting a cleansing fast and being a gay man at a Playboy photo shoot. Rakoff could be urbane and cutting—his comparison of the retro-futuristic swank of the Concorde and Hooters’ short-lived airline is hilariously cruel—but as This American Life fans remember, he delivered his critiques of American excess with affection and empathy.