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
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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

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  4,798 ratings  ·  629 reviews
David Rakoff takes us on a bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess. Whether he is contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the good-times-and-chicken-wings populism of Hooters Air; working as a cabana boy at a South Beach hotel; or traveling to a private island off the coast of Belize to watch a soft-core video shoot--w...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Aug 09, 2007 ari rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: american people living an american life. this american life.
Shelves: non-fiction
So, I promised myself that I would stray away from the non-fiction universe after perusing a particularly disturbing online survey that noted that for the most part, unhappy people read non-fiction because they are unwilling to bask in the fervent imagination of a good fiction writer. This is to say that non-fiction writers are inherently unimaginative, and the people that read their work are depressed boors staving off suicide one "Chicken Soup for the _______ Soul" at a time.

Of course, I woul...more
Jul 16, 2007 Melissa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lefties who need a laugh
I went to the bookstore looking for a Sedaris book because I needed to laugh. I was distraught to learn that I'd read everything he'd written!

David Rakoff, like his peer David Sedaris, has occasionally been featured on Public Radio's "This American Life." His (writer's) voice is not as dark as Sedaris'... but he is quite hilarous; I bought this book in hopes of laughing, and was not disappointed. The man knows how to turn a phrase. May I please quote a passage where he describes the experience...more
Ironically, as a secular humanist who shows no patience for groups like the Christian Right, Rakoff actually practies what those groups preach: He hates the sin, but loves the sinners. Or rather, he hates the stupid, shallow practices of modern American life, but shows a certain empathetic tolerance for the people who practice them.

Rakoff's criticisms of the absurd and narcisstic aspects of modern american life are intelligently snarky and, even better, consistently ring true. He's especially e...more
Dec 01, 2008 Denise rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jordan, Debbie
I knew this was gonna be good when, in the first half page, the author compares loving America as a Canadian to loving the schoolyard bully's daily battery and petty theft. If you're the kind of person who resents the blog "Stuff White People Like", this guy will probably rub you the wrong way, but honestly, it's funny because it's true and this guy will make you laugh regardless. This book was like an amalgamation of my seven funniest friends if they were sent on a trip around the world to obse...more
Jul 10, 2007 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: bitchy queens
Highly entertaining, but I have to say, he uses lots of words I didn't know, and I consider myself to be a pretty educated person. The writing is a little awkward and lacks flow at times, but overall, it's a quick and funny read that covers lots of strange situations, from a flight on the hooters airline, to suspended reanimation conferences.

Some essays are funnier than others, but I love anybody that calls Barbara Bush (senior) a "stupid cunt" and Barbara Bush (junior) a "girls-gone-wild human...more
Kate Sweeney
Dec 10, 2007 Kate Sweeney rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mamabeth
Does anyone write like David Rakoff? I challenge you.

It's a book best listened to on audio. His rhythm of speech, the emphasis he gives some words really makes his elegant language choices and wit shine like something always freshly polished.
I listen to this when I've lost my faith 1. in nonfiction writing or 2. in my way of viewing the world...both of which take place more often than I'd like.

"A grass-soup situation is a self-dramatizing one based on such a poorly imagined and improbable premi...more
Although I enjoyed reading this book, I found it disappointing for a number of reasons. First, the contents have nothing at all to do with the title--none of the essays mentions artisanal olive oil or low-thread-count sheets, for example. Second, I didn't really "get it"--I just couldn't figure out what the point was. And finally, the author's non sequitur cheap shots at Republicans and George Bush were off-putting (there's plenty to complain about without just inserting random anti-Bush sentenc...more
Katie Christian
If I could give a negative number of stars for a book - this one would merit it. I am just SO grateful that Mr. Rakoff wrote this book. Without it I would never have known how much better and smarter and more intelligent the author is than the rest of us. Perhaps this book should be required reading in schools so that more people will be aware of what a pompous ass the author truly is. There was no way to win me back after he all but mocked the happiness of the new citizens as they took the oath...more
David Rakoff is my hero (and one of my many, many gay Canadian boyfriends). He's hilariously funny, but there's real meat to this volume, too. My favorite essays are the one exploring Rakoff's mixed feelings upon deciding to become an American citizen, and the chapter about the Log Cabin Republicans. In the latter Rakoff presents himself as sympathetic to their plight yet understandably completely baffled by gay Republicans' attempts to earn a place inside "the big tent" (the essay's called "Be...more
Like Sedaris, Rakoff writes in a dry, self-deprecating voice that makes him immediately endearing (unless you have a problem with left-wing gay men). These relaxed essays don't rely on family anecdotes as much as Sedaris, nor are they as sentimental. Rakoff is a humorist first and the satirical observations on Americanism and a culture of excess make for great light reading that's guilt free, so long as you don't pay $50/lb for imported sea salt from France.

David Rakoff makes me chuckle and cho...more
I didn't love all of the essays included in this book, but the last few chapters (essays on the Log Cabin Republicans, plastic surgery, and cryogenics) were fabulous.

And then there is this, "If for example, it came to light that the dangerously thin, affectless, value-deficient, higher aspiration-free, amateur porn auteuse Paris Hilton was actually a covert agent from some secret Taliban madrassa whose mission was to portray the ultimate capiltalist-whore puppet of a doomed society with nothing...more
We have become an army of multiply chemically sensitive, high-maintenance princesses trying to make our way through a world full of irksome peas.

All of the nice things I have to say about listening to David Rakoff narrating one of his audiobooks was said in my review of Half Empty and I would reiterate that it is a very enjoyable experience. The writing here in Don't Get Too Comfortable The Indignities of Coach Class The Torments of Low Thread Count The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil...more
It seems that David Sedaris sparked something several years back and there was suddenly a new crop of gay male memoirists. I didn't find any of them particularly funny (except for Sedaris himself) and so I approached Rakoff's book with skepticism.

But I loved it! This man is actually funny. He isn't incredibly self-involved (see: Augusten Burroughs). He writes about intesting things (the chapter on the Log Cabin Republicans was especially good).

The book is also an incredibly quick read, good for...more
David Yoon
With Rakoff's passing I thought it appropriate to revisit this Canadian expat. I've given him short shrift in the past, he the second fiddle to the other nebbish, homosexual New Yorker named David. (Turns out it was that same David Sedaris that helped propel Rakoff's early career.)

Don't Get Too Comfortable is a collection of essays. It becomes clear that you can take the Canadian out of Canada but you can't get the Canada out of the Canadian. Rakoff seems to be the outsider looking in. Starting...more
Rakoff is a regular contributor to This American Life. This 2005 book of personal essays has some great funny parts and a snarky sensibility, but was immediately shadowed in my mind by his next book, Half-Empty (2010), which is leaps and bounds greater in writing ability. Still, a quick and entertaining read.

An example from a passage where he describes the experience of meeting a snotty designer while reporting at a fashion show:

"All of the designers I have met up to this point have been very n...more
I wanted to read this book based on the title. I think we have a tendency toward excess and from this title I thought it might be a book about focusing more on things that matter most and being content with what we already have, etc.

Wrong. I fully read the first few chapters, but had to resort to skipping to random pages further on looking for something that wouldn't just annoy me. Never found it. Right from the start, I should have known I would never finish. Rakoff begins with the story of his...more
**Warning** This book contains some profanity.

Why did it take for this man to die before I discovered how wonderful his writing is? His voice, too, for that matter, is distinctive and snarky and delicious. I was moved by the many tributes to him on This American Life, Wire Tap, and The Daily Show, so I put this book on hold. He is so funny! His writing is very personal and brilliant!

In this book he writes about becoming a US citizen after 9/11, luxury vs. simplicity, accompanying a Latin playbo...more
Rene Saller
I listened to the last disc of the audiobook while walking in the park this afternoon, still trying to absorb the sadness of his death. David Rakoff has made me guffaw so loudly (sometimes in public, since I'm often listening to him read his essays on my iPod), and he has made me cry, and he has made me think. Most of all, he has made me marvel over how extravagantly, unfairly smart he is, how he manages to be both savage to the deserving (Paris Hilton, Log Cabin Republicans, the producers of Th...more
Like Rakoff’s other book, “Fraud,” “Don’t Get Too Comfortable” is a collection of wry observations made from a cynical remove. The subject matter is cultural excess, phenomena like fasting rituals that ostensibly put practitioners into a state of spiritual clarity, artisanal foods regarded with near-sexual enthusiasm, and the casual opulence of the supersonic trans-Atlantic flight.

Easily, Rakoff ridicules luxuries enjoyed by the rarefied few. But more than that, he skewers the false moral equiv...more
This book is a collection of nonfiction essays about the American culture of excess. Rakoff turns his attention to the obscene extravaganza that defines the lives of many here and now. From Hooters Air to beachside luxury resorts, Rakoff roasts the completely unnecessary things we do while we pretend they are totally normal. His time spent with his own manservant during a softcore shoot on a private island in Belize boggled my mind. "Is this real?" I asked myself. Rakoff stumbles most charmingly...more
Ummmmm.....there are things in this book that are truly memorable...aesthetic moments, they are called- when you never really look at things quite the same way after...the book takes you to some interesting places, and you feel like you're on a really cool World-Class field trip with someone really special, someone with an inside track. I don't get that feeling very often these days. So, thus the three stars. And, I have to love someone who hates the Bush family the way I do. Also, the descripti...more
So I've heard this guy on This American Life and thought I'd try his book out. Now, I think the David Sedaris comparison has been made, but it's unavoidable. The voice of David Rakoff is very similar: witty, sharp, biting, dry, highly observant. However, whereas Sedaris writes about organic experiences--things that occur naturally in his life, most of Rakoff's experiences are "experienced" purely for the sake of writing about them. He actually sets out to find odd experiences so he can write abo...more
Eileen Daly-Boas
No spoilers.
Blurb: David Rakoff is brilliant, funny, wry and self-deprecating. If you appreciate the work of David Sedaris, this is smarter. If you like Sarah Vowell, this is sharper and more cutting. If you don't know those authors, go check them out as well.

Longer version: I've followed David Rakoff through This American Life, and occasionally read his works in various magazines. He's always smart, always a bit sad, but a genuinely talented observer of people. The hypocrisy of the first-world...more
I really wanted this to be laugh out loud funny and terrifyingly beautiful. Alas, it was only smirky funny and terrificly "meh." It never reaches the stabbing cynicism of the title and doesn't live up to itself. I liked it, but it just wasn't as great as I expected it to be. It does have its David Sedaris moments (which, upon hearing, the author probably sighs and then retches violently), but I'm not a big Sedaris fan either, so that sort of turns me off. (Note: I just looked at his bio and appa...more
Ugh. Don't even bother.

The title has nothing to do with the content. I was expecting a send up of all the crazy things the upper middle class now considers "essential".

No. This is just a much of personal mini-memoirs about nothing. Oh look at me, I went to and hated Puppety of the Penis! Oh look at me, I faked being a "pool embassador" to write this book. Isn't it hilarious that I ordered room service at the hotel two doors down from where I "work"? Oh look at me, I stayed up til 4 on a scavan...more
Possibly my favorite contemporary writer. His fiction (like an excellent entry on "This American Life" about a holiday party gone wrong) is entertaining. But his essays on American culture are spot-on. They are well-crafted, well-researched, and clever. Rakoff doesn't need to resort to the same snark behind which many writers hide.

In this collection, Rakoff explores just how selfish we have become, and how that selfishness manifests itself. And the writer is not exempt. In one piece, he can't u...more
David Rakoff is a man o' mine. With this riff he hits every high note and takes me with him. I love him for making the effort--he says writing is painful. I wonder if it is actually the writing or the remembering that is so painful. Let's face it: when we were kids and found out that humans were not really perfect, it bothered us. Later, when we found out our friends and lovers were not perfect, it was an even bigger bummer. Later yet, we had to admit some of our own errors were rather glaring a...more
Aug 08, 2007 Danielle rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone with a lot of time to fill
Shelves: modern
The title of this book is really catchy and I rushed out immediately to buy it. Instead of a critique of all the ridiculous things people do and care about in the first world, it was a random report of different experiences he did on purpose to see what it owuld be like. For example, is fasting a problem of the first world? Perhaps he means pushing aside food when there is plenty, but that is more like anorexia. Fasting is not a first world phenomena and I would say it is not widespread either....more
"The mark of a true friend is someone who remembers you from sophomore year and doesn't hold it against you that you painted a huge copy of van Gogh's sunflowers on the wall of your dorm room, for example."

I probably wouldn't read anything more from this author, but the book has its good moments. More interesting than funny, if I recall correctly. I think there's one piece in here where he went to one of Tom Brown's programs. I found it especially interesting because my mom was seriously into To...more
Kathy Davie
A series of 15 essays on the excess in our culture.

My Take
It's well worth reading for Rakoff's use of words as he has a beautiful way of writing whether he's dishing or dashing his topic or himself. In general, he dishes himself, which I suspect is part of what attracts his fans. Each essay addresses a variety of issues as Rakoff leapfrogs from negative to positive and back again. History, politics, environment, consumerism, the shallowness and depth of the individual. And Rakoff. And he makes i...more
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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...more
More about David Rakoff...
Fraud: Essays Half Empty Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America The 50 Funniest American Writers: According to Andy Borowitz

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“For most of my life, I would have automatically said that I would opt for conscientious objector status, and in general, I still would. But the spirit of the question is would I ever, and there are instances where I might. If immediate intervention would have circumvented the genocide in Rwanda or stopped the Janjaweed in Darfur, would I choose pacifism? Of course not. Scott Simon, the reporter for National Public Radio and a committed lifelong Quaker, has written that it took looking into mass graves in former Yugoslavia to convince him that force is sometimes the only option to deter our species' murderous impulses.

While we're on the subject of the horrors of war, and humanity's most poisonous and least charitable attributes, let me not forget to mention Barbara Bush (that would be former First Lady and presidential mother as opposed to W's liquor-swilling, Girl Gone Wild, human ashtray of a daughter. I'm sorry, that's not fair. I've no idea if she smokes.) When the administration censored images of the flag-draped coffins of the young men and women being killed in Iraq - purportedly to respect "the privacy of the families" and not to minimize and cover up the true nature and consequences of the war - the family matriarch expressed her support for what was ultimately her son's decision by saying on Good Morning America on March 18, 2003, "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? I mean it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Mrs. Bush is not getting any younger. When she eventually ceases to walk among us we will undoubtedly see photographs of her flag-draped coffin. Whatever obituaries that run will admiringly mention those wizened, dynastic loins of hers and praise her staunch refusal to color her hair or glamorize her image. But will they remember this particular statement of hers, this "Let them eat cake" for the twenty-first century? Unlikely, since it received far too little play and definitely insufficient outrage when she said it. So let us promise herewith to never forget her callous disregard for other parents' children while her own son was sending them to make the ultimate sacrifice, while asking of the rest of us little more than to promise to go shopping. Commit the quote to memory and say it whenever her name comes up. Remind others how she lacked even the bare minimum of human integrity, the most basic requirement of decency that says if you support a war, you should be willing, if not to join those nineteen-year-olds yourself, then at least, at the very least, to acknowledge that said war was actually going on. Stupid fucking cow.”
“Writing is like pulling teeth.
From my dick.”
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