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Fraud

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  6,668 ratings  ·  310 reviews
You've heard him on "This American Life"! Now read his book!
Wherever he is, David Rakoff is a fish out of water. Whether impersonating Sigmund Freud in a department store window during the holidays, climbing an icy mountain in cheap loafers, playing an evil modeling agent on a daytime soap opera, or learning primitive survival skills in the wilds of New Jersey, Rakoff doe
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Hardcover, 228 pages
Published May 15th 2001 by Doubleday Books (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rebecca
It's unfortunate that my first impulse, one common to many readers, is to compare David Rakoff to David Sedaris. Because compared to Sedaris's winning alchemy of wit and absurdity, Rakoff's stories at first seem a little wan. To the hearty comedy that is "Me Talk Pretty One Day," "Fraud" might be a bitter, hemophiliac sibling. But I think I might prefer Rakoff for exactly this reason. Rakoff is less interested in mining a situation for its inherent inanity than he is in investigating his own cyn ...more
patsy
Oct 31, 2007 patsy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Snarky Mc Snarkington, Fudgy McPacker, & Jewy McHebrew
I was lucky enough to meet David Rakoff when I hosted him for a bookstore reading. Along with David Sedaris & Sarah Vowell, he was on an NPR speaking tour. He is definitely as entertaining as the aforementioned authors; seeing the 3 of them in a group reading was a highlight of my literary life.
His essays could best be characterized as lefty whining, but with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Hard to pick just one favorite in this collection, but the Steven Segal/Buddhist workshop piece is pre
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Melissa
I really wanted to like this book. Honestly, I really did. I love Rakoff's work on NPR's This American Llife, so I was really surprised as to how unlikeable this book was. At this point, the author had as of yet to cement his persona as a loveable curmudgeon, and instead comes off as cranky and self righteous. He also seems to be pre-occupied with the task of impressing the audience with his vast vocabulary, instead of drawing the reader into his work. Long story short, the subtext of this book ...more
Justin Hudnall
Dec 17, 2007 Justin Hudnall rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The patient
One thing needs to happen before I can say I like David Rakof without wincing:

Some kind hearted thief needs to steal the man's thesaurus. I'm all for the three dollar words, but this man's vocabulary earns the adjective "audacious." To hear him read his work, when he trips over one of these little jewels, his voice slows to purr over it like a deer on a salt lick, and the effect is sickening. It's a shame, considering he is really funny and a true wit, when not mining his own prose with the lite
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Andrew Breslin
I pity David Rakoff. It must be tough to go through life as a witty and urbane gay writer of amusingly embellished autobiographical essays frequently featured on This American Life named David, unless you are the other one. I'm not even going to say the other one's name, because I'm sure 90% of the reviews on here already mention it, and I want to stand out from the crowd.

(Hint: it ryhmes with "Ted, wear this.")

Yes, it's very well written and quite funny, but it's not fall-off-your-chair-laughi
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Rose
While I secretly like to pride myself on a well-endowed disinclination toward celebrity reverence and any urge to wed, I realized at some point along these (or maybe it was that other book's) delightfully self-deprecating, melodramatic pages that, nope, I only misunderstood. Actually, I simply want to be—or, failing that, marry—a very specific, gay, deceased man.

He runs around a makeshift Colosseum (it looks a lot like a bathroom because it's his bathroom) shouting to himself, "ARE YOU NOT ENTE
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Marcelo
Enjoyed it, didn't rock my world though - I think "Don't get too comfortable" which had more thematic cohesion is an overall better book. Having said that, I do like Rakoff's take on the world around him, especially on his travel pieces: he is able to take what is alien or strange and point out how this actually just comes from a perception or view of the world, not from the thing itself. And by engaging the world outside and not just doing a personal memoir (and, let's say it, bypassing some of ...more
Ensiform
A collection of humorous essays, both autobiographical and based on journalistic assignments. A homosexual and a Jew, Rakoff plays up his neuroses and fears as he discusses his early career in publishing as the bottom rung of the assistant ladder; the cancer that forced him to leave Japan where he worked as a translator; his work as a bit actor in television. He’s self-effacing and funny, but also startlingly perspicacious; his insight on how teachers think (in his piece on Austrian cultural-exc ...more
J.P.
I think I wanted to say something about how reading David Rakoff's work expands my brain and my emotions, but after finishing the last essay in which he talks about searching for 3 sperm samples he gave before going through the chemotherapy in 1987 that would eventually lead to the cancer that killed him just a few days ago...I find myself expanded by the experience of him and his writing, but at a loss at the blindness we each suffer from in our lives. Of course, Rakoff couldn't have known that ...more
Lois
I first heard of David Rakoff after his death. An interview he had with Terry Gross was played in his memory on Fresh Air. It was an intriguing interview where he talked about the loss of his arm and at that time was hopeful that his cancer was not progressing. His way of speaking made me want to read his books and I'm so glad to have started with Fraud.

Fraud is a collection of Essays David wrote. Each one is fun and tells a story from a looking back perspective. You will laugh frequently while
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Alex
Meh. Got it hoping it would be Sedaris-y, and while the guy is obviously very smart and a good writer, this is what got me from really liking the thing: Okay, so his shtick is that he's a gay angsty New Yorker who's terribly lonely and sad and a perennial outsider, possibly because he's too much of a clever smartass to bear. HOWEVER! When you finally finish the collection you find that he has like, 200 people who he thanks in his acknowledgment section, which COMPLETELY negates the persona he's ...more
Rick
This is the late essayist and NPR (This American Life) contributor’s first book. Two more followed in his too short life-span—he died in 2012 at 47. The cause was his second battle with cancer. A recounting of the first, when he was in his young 20s, closes this collection. A posthumous verse-novel has since been published to strong praise. The buzz for the novel and my own optimistic compulsion to begin at the beginning, assuming a good thing would only get better, led me to start with this vol ...more
Paula
How did I forget I actually read all of this book? As soon as I started pretty much every essay, I knew what I was in for--and that I would like it.

I don't find Rakoff to be as overly erudite as others plainly due--especially in comparison to his friend Patty Marx and her book (Him Her Him [Again:] The End) I read (somehow) last year. In fact, recognizing most of his references made me feel smart! I also enjoy his almost-restrained humor that percolates itself lightly into each piece. Ah, the th
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Carol Jean
I mentioned that I laughed until I cried at one of Rakoff's other books. From the first essay in this one, I offer two GORGEOUS quotes:

"His voice is velvet soft and Atticus Finch authoritative, but there's a sad whiff of mortality -- a smell of old leaves underneath everything he speaks of: the solitude of retirement, the nomadic life of the career renovator, the trial and test of faith that is building a butcher block island with sink, work area, and recessed halogen light fixtures. It's a bit
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Jason LeRoy
"What remains of your past if you didn't allow yourself to feel it when it happened?" This is one of several particularly haunting passages from the final essay in this, David Rakoff's first collection. At the time of his passing, I mistakenly thought I'd read all of his books, but it turned out I actually hadn't read the first. It was a bittersweet delight to be able to immerse myself in these impeccably written, exquisitely funny stories, having wrongly thought I'd already exhausted his catalo ...more
Penny
Ok, let me start off by saying that I made a somewhat valiant effort not to compare Rakoff to another NPR essay writing David. But it was quite difficult to make a conscious effort not to make a subconscious comparison (how's that for clear writing!) It was the same when I read Sloane Crosley's stuff. It just seemed . . . lacking. In Fraud, there was a little too much snark for me. And when the self-effacing light bulb did turn on, I thought, "too little, too late."

This is not to say that Rakoff
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Judith
I recently discovered a truly original book by David Rakoff called "Love, Dishonor, Marry, Cherish, Perish, Die" and vowed to find everything he wrote. This is the first book I found and it would be really good if only I had read it first, but it suffers by comparison. It is a collection of essays published in 2001, but written at various times in his career, thus some of them seem a bit dated. There is no central theme and he covers such a wide range of topics: for example: The Icelanders belie ...more
Alex
Jan 01, 2008 Alex rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David Sedaris & Amy Vowell fans
David Rakoff is funnier than David Sedaris. His collection of essays reveals him to be a wannabe NYC cynic who can't quite seem to shed his aw-shucks, nice guy Canadian roots. He has the ability to see the ridiculous side of every situation without forgetting that he himself is as fallible as the rest of us. This book made me laugh out loud (Sedaris and Vowell will occasionally make me crack a smile). I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys the essay format.
Lily
I have wanted to read another David Rakoff since last Hannukkah's present of Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish (ok I had to look up the title on that one). This book of essays is insightful, witty, hypercritical, and hilarious. Unlike David Sedaris', this collection read like the Greatest Hits of the long career of a human interest magazine writer. Because of that there was almost nothing memoir-like about it; instead the essays focused on these assignment-like pieces on the various bo ...more
Steve
Rakoff's first collection of essays, and you can tell he is learning to write. The essays get better as the book moves along, and by the last 2 entries you see he has found his voice. It may also be that they last 2 essays are about revisiting Japan (where he found out he had Hodgkin's) and the Toronto hospital (where he was treated for the disease). More personal - and his sharing his experience with fertility clinics and sperm banks is the funniest point of this collection.

Since he sadly only
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Chris Norton
One of my all-time favourite short films is The New Tenants, in which David Rakoff has a supremely world-weary role. Fraud is a collection of essays - quite diverting and enjoyable for me because I can hear his distinctive voice. A light read but with some laugh-out-loud moments and occasional flirtations with profundity.
Greg Fanoe
Casually pretentious, in exactly the way that makes his radio stories great, but it really makes a whole book of stories pretty tiresome. There's only so many stories about how above it all the author is that one can take in a single sitting.
Matthew
3.5 stars, I would say.

I'm guessing a good number of people who pick up this book were introduced to David Rakoff through a podcast, such as This American Life or Wiretap. For that reason, you might have expected the stories in this book to pack as much of a punch as the stories in the podcasts. If you come into this book expecting a writer like David Sedaris then you will be disappointed.

I enjoyed this book more when I stopped thinking of it as a collection of humor essays (which it is not) and
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Doug
The unrelenting sourness can be hard to withstand at times, but how can you say no to a man who spent his time at the Aspen Comedy Festival "wheezing like a mid-coitus Nelson Rockefeller"?
Amy
Right now all I do is wallow around listening to books on CD, occasionally lifting my head up off the pillow to drink some tea. It's a blizzard!
Danielle Mohlman
Fraud was by far the stronger Rakoff collection I “read” this month. With one sentence, he summed up the feeling of growing into adulthood:

"It’s definitely not the first time in my adulthood that I have realized this, but it never fails to cheer me to have it proven yet again that almost any age is better than twenty-two."

That refrain has kept me going every time I go to work on too-little sleep, every time I have more than two beers on a Friday night. Every time I look at who I am now and who I
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Paula
Very smart and very funny. I listened to this in my car, and I found myself wishing I could stop and somehow 'highlight' numerous passages. He is a delightful writer with a marvelous command of language. I think I will buy a hard-copy for the simple pleasure of defacing it with dog-earred pages and highlights of its many savory phrases.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the This American Life podcast for introducing me to Rakoff. If you like David Sedaris or This American Life - you will almost certa
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Shannon Chapel
I purchased this book after hearing the author, David Rakoff, interviewed on NPR. He was witty, funny, and I couldn't wait to start reading.

I was profoundly disappointed.

Despite being a brilliant writer, I found this collection of essays to be one hateful diatribe after another. He states "I have yet to meet anyone outside of the press room, however, who does not actively revile Robin Williams," referring to him as "the Billy Joel of comedy, accessibly catchy in the initial moment, but with the
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Adam Dunn
I read this book for my book club.

I didn’t find the book humorous, a couple of times I thought to myself, that was smart, but I don’t think I really laughed.

The highlight of the book is the author describing the origin of the term “23 skidoo” which I never knew.

The book is a series of unrelated essays, some on elves in Iceland, others on cancer, others on nature retreats.

I think my biggest problem was the author and I don’t think the same way. I don’t know of anyone who thinks this way though.
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Daniel
These essays constitute David Rakoff's first of three collections, and are a mix of personal history and reporting assignment. If I were to compare David's style to that of David Foster Wallace, I would say that he's a funnier, less analytic and more personal/emotional version of the man.

In the first essay, "In New England Everyone Cals You Dave" he goes on a journalistic assignment to climb a Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. It sets the tone well for both the book and Rakoff as an author: a tim
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David Rakoff (November 27, 1964 – August 9, 2012) was an essayist, journalist, and actor. Originally from Canada, Rakoff was a graduate of Columbia University, he obtained dual Canadian-American citizenship in 2003, and resided for much of his life in New York City. His brother Simon is a stand-up comedian.

Rakoff wrote for the New York Times Magazine, Outside, GQ, Vogue and Salon. He was a frequen
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“What remains of your past if you didn't allow yourself to feel it when it happened? If you don't have your experiences in the moment, if you gloss them over with jokes or zoom past them, you end up with curiously dispassionate memories.” 21 likes
“Not being funny doesn’t make you a bad person. Not having a sense of humor does.” 10 likes
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