Fraud: Essays

Fraud: Essays

From This American Life alum David Rakoff comes a hilarious collection that single-handedly raises self-deprecation to an art form. Whether impersonating Sigmund Freud in a department store window during the holidays, climbing an icy mountain in cheap loafers, or learning primitive survival skills in the wilds of New Jersey, Rakoff clearly demonstrates how he doesn't belon...

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Title:Fraud: Essays
Author:David Rakoff
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Edition Language:English

Fraud: Essays Reviews

  • patsy

    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

    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 pretty great.

    He is deadpan, hilarious, and a great reader. His years as a soap opera actor have served him well!

    Bonus points for the illustrations of the author's own woodcuts.

  • 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

    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 cynical reactions to those situations. Where Sedaris is brightly, eagerly funny, and forthrightly sets out to endear himself to his readers, Rakoff is caustic and dark. His jokes don't have punchlines, except where, through a combination of pomposity and self-flagellation, he is himself the punchline.

    One of many gems: "The average fertile thirty-five-year-old man has many million sperm, a few million of which are motile enough to knock someone up. When I get my results, I find that I have ten. Not ten million: ten. Three are dead in the water, and the other seven are technically motile but given a grade very close to dead... I come up with the idea of naming them. For all the male-of-the-species reproductive good they'll do me, I consider calling them all Janet. Then I settle on Radcliffe, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Wellesley, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Vassar."

    Not to be too distracted by the comparison between Sedaris and Rakoff, I do think it's worth noting that Rakoff's essays have a fuller roundness. Whereas Sedaris's stories ramble a little like an anecdote delivered to a friend, Rakoff's stories are tighter, each finding by the conclusion the thematic thread of its introduction. Of course, there's much more to them as well. There is greater loneliness in these essays. Epiphanic moments illuminate the most alienating situations. One such moment comes as the author returns from a lonesome trip to Scotland over Passover: "I retire to the dining car. I sit, smoking and drinking a stunningly expensive beer across from a man who tucks in to his plate of haggis and peas. I smile at him in greeting. He does not know it, but this is our silent seder for two."

  • 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

    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 ENTERTAINED?!", which begs the observation: what a generous gent. He then apologizes for shouting.

  • Justin Hudnall

    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

    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 literary equivalent of rotten easter eggs.

  • Melissa

    I really wanted to like this book. Honestly, I really did. I love Rakoff's work on NPR's

    , 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

    I really wanted to like this book. Honestly, I really did. I love Rakoff's work on NPR's

    , 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 is that the author is smarter and more cultured than you are. Skip this one and read his later works instead.

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