Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cannonball Read #6: Don't Get Too Comfortable, by David Rakoff

I read this collection of essays about a month ago, so forgive me if this review is brief-ah procrastination, you've plagued me my entire life (note to self: return library book from the 5th grade, other people would like to read the Garfield Treasury #5 as well). I've delved into Rakoff before, via his collection Fraud, and I actually preferred that to Don't Get Too Comfortable. The wit here was a bit dryer, and a little too subtle for my tastes, but still enjoyable enough for a trolley ride home. Thematically, the essays center on Americans and our culture of self-indulgence. As a native Canadian who has spent much of his life living in the U.S., Rakoff manages to be both derisive and analytical as an outsider, but also self-deprecating regarding his adopted home and his American identity. The first essay was actually my favorite: Rakoff, determined to cast his vote against George W. Bush in the 2004, finally applies for U.S. citizenship. It's a fascinating and funny commentary on the electoral process that's also bittersweet. Rakoff ruminates on the repercussions of his decision...what does he have to give up, if anything, now that he is an American? Is his Canadianoscity lessened? Does he have to trade moose for bald eagle? That last question may be one I asked myself in my head.

Another two that I enjoyed revolved around resorts and vacationing in general. Rakoff visits Belize and is witness to a Playboy shoot. I'm a huge fan of gay perspectives of the female form and its alleged's probably why my best friend cracks me up so often, he loves to mock my lady parts and their lack of appeal. The shoot's description just makes me sad, it's comprised of young silicone enhanced women writhing on chaises as the cameraman listlessly monotones directions to spread their legs. Tis The Sexy. In a later essay Rakoff moonlights at a swanky resort as, I believe, a towel boy? A professional smiler? I forget, he's supposed to make the vacationers feel happy and taken care of. Instead of dissecting the privileged's view of those who work in the service industry as I expected, Rakoff instead details just how damned BORING the job was. Once, just once he longs to be told to fuck off, but alas it never happens. Rakoff is sarcastic and unrelentingly observant like Sedaris and Sarah Vowell, and I always enjoy his work, though the guffaws don't come quite as often as when I read Me Talk Pretty One Day and Assassination Vaction. But via Hooter Airlines and detoxing diets, he offers a fresh look at the decadence and absurdity found in today's society.

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