David Rakoff * Anchor * October 27, 2015 * 352 Pages
I was only vaguely familiar with Rakoff’s work before reading this book. I had read a few of his pieces in The New York Times and Salon a while back, so I knew what to expect somewhat. But I was really excited to see what possible-gems I had missed.
Initially, I loved this book. The first few essays in here are tremendous. My Sister of Perpetual Mercy, Sagrada Familia (this one is actually fiction), and Diary, 1998 are perfect: descriptive, honest, funny, witty, and, truly, quite heartfelt. I was sold. I was in. Give me more, David!
But, unfortunately, the collection took a nose-dive about seven essays in. The writing began to lack, I don’t know, personality, interest, heart. There are a lot of travel/nature pieces in here, which I wasn’t expecting. Some are humorous, but after reading those first few phenomenal stories, I found these others to be boring, almost like Rakoff wasn’t really invested in them. I did end up loving one other short essay later in the book: The Waiting. But, in it, Rakoff revisits personal themes again (specifically: his experience with having cancer), so the writing becomes more intense, more raw.
Ultimately, most of the essays and stories in this collection are just okay. But the ones that stood out really made me take notice. I plan on checking out Rakoff’s other works; I might start with Fraud.