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Paperback 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 Book

ISBN: 0767916034

ISBN13: 9780767916035

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

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Book Overview

A bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess from an award-winning humorist. Whether David Rakoff is contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A deceptively wicked book

"George W. Bush made me want to be an American." That's the first sentence of the book "Don't Get Too Comfortable" by David Rakoff. In spite of the warning not to judge a book by it's cover, I often do that in making my selections at the local library. The cover tells me something about the tone or style of the book, the call number on the spine tells me whether it is fiction or non-, and the subtitle usually gives a very good synopsis of the book. The subtitle for Rakoff's book is "The indignities of coach class, the torments of low thread count, the never-ending quest for artisanal olive oil, and other first world problems." Not a bad summary. But for this book it was the first sentence of the first chapter that riveted me. Bush made him want to be an American!?!? Turns out that is a backhanded compliment for Bush's vision of America which has resulted in imprisonment without trial and deportation without cause simply because the government has deemed a person an "enemy combatant". The war on terror has no easily identified enemy so everyone is suspect and anyone is liable to be caught in the net of "enemy". Rakoff has lived most of his life in America as a Canadian citizen, a legal resident alien. He had been happy with the ambiguities of his life until he realized that Bush wasn't. From this decision he goes on to experience and then describe our pitiful naturalization system. This is a collection of short magazine-length articles, many of which have already appeared in magazines such as GQ, This American Life, and Harper's Bazaar. They're fun, funny, and mostly light-hearted with some serious undertones. Topics include shopping, Martha Steward, genital origami, Log Cabin Republicans, cosmetic surgery, and the quest for eternal life through cryogenics. Highly enjoyable book.

Great book!

My husband and I listened to this audiobook on a car trip last week. We both really enjoyed it (as well as the audiobook for Rakoff's other book, FRAUD), but I do admit to nodding off close to the end. (My excuse was that I'd taken an over-the-counter medication for motion sickness. But, maybe he was sometimes a little bit long-winded. Not all the time, though, because we were often laughing out loud at his turns of phrase.) I greatly enjoyed his humorous, observant style of writing. He entertained me while enlightening me on what it would be like to go on a late-night scavenger hunt through New York City, for example. Some reviewers seemed to have the wrong expectation about what this book was about. I didn't feel like Rakoff had made it his "goal" to delve into American excess; I just think that this was the general theme that tied these essays together. This wasn't meant to be a thesis explaining "This is why Americans are the way they are." These essays are just Rakoff's observations on the ironic quirks of American culture. I just enjoyed the essays for what they were without expecting him to give me a sociological explanation for what was behind everything he wrote about. People who were expecting that were reading the wrong book. Some other reviewers have criticized Rakoff's delivery when he read his book for the audio CD. In my opinion, his manner of speaking ADDED to my enjoyment of his work. It helped me imagine him in all of the situations he was in. Because he's gay, he can take a detached, third-party view of the soft-core photo shoot he witnesses at the luxury resort, as well as the Hooters Air flight he takes. He's observing the ironies of these situations, but not distracted by the women's "physical charms." Can you imagine a more macho, "man's man" performance of these essays by a different narrator giving you the same impression of the absurdity Rakoff feels in these situations? No, Rakoff is what he is, and his narration comes off to me as true to how it would sound as an anecdote he'd share when talking to a friend. So, I, for one, hope he continues to be the reader of his own work, for audiobook purposes. Also, to those who complain that Rakoff shouldn't criticize America because he's Canadian by birth, I think that this gives him a unique perspective that has merit. He had lived (legally) in America for many years before he became a U.S. citizen, and he seemed to consider New York City to be his home. Just because he has complaints about the naturalization process, as well as darkly humorous opinions about the eccentricities of Americans, doesn't mean that he completely regrets becoming a U.S. citizen. I would think that people who give up citizenship in the country they were born in often have misgivings along the way (and afterward) that they might be making a mistake. That's a pretty life-changing decision to have made, and his honesty in feeling kind of like a stranger in a strange land is n

OK, we're ready for our close-up Mr. DeMille

Pepsi or Coca Cola? ER or Chicago Hope? David Sedaris or David Rakoff? We all have our preferences. I prefer Coke, Chicago Hope, and Rakoff. They all have the right amount of bite for my taste. Rakoff, while sharing many of Sedaris's virtues--wit, self-effacing humor, a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about his being gay--Rakoff's essays are less rambling and have a point. Even though he could be accused of writing soft journalism and doesn't do any heavy duty investigation (he's either a fatalist or just plain lazy), he does hold a mirror up to his readers (presumably mostly middle-class Americans) and asks us to think about what we do (and why), and what our actions say about where our values lie. His essays touch on a swimsuit photo shoot, looking for edible roots and shoots in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, the last flight of the grossly inefficient Concorde, a Yuppie scavenger hunt in Manhattan, penis puppets as Broadway entertainment, serving the beautiful people in a South Beach hotel, tourists who would rather stand in the cold to watch the Today Show from outside the NBC studio than take in New York's many cultural offerings, the Paris rag trade, the futility and inanity of gay Republicans, the ethical dilemmas of cosmetic surgeons, the pettiness of a "fasting guru," and the absurdity of cryonics (those wackos who want to be frozen when they die and revivified when science has figured out how to cure the illnesses that killed them and can reverse the other unpleasant aspects of aging). Rakoff asks his readers to take a good look at themselves and reflect on what they see. As Rakoff himelf says, "I have seen the future and I'm fairly relieved to say, it looks nothing like me" (p. 222). As Americans we have big dreams, high expectations. Maybe it's time, Rakoff seems to be saying, for us to cultivate a little humility.

Very Funny

I normally don't read humor writing. I have been told I am humorless. But this book made me laugh out loud throughout each and every essay. Highly recommended for misanthropes everywhere. That last sentence isn't fair. Rakoff seems to generally care about people; as do I. But he is highly (and hilariously) critical of many people as well.

Seeing the World Just a Little Bit Different

How often have we filled out some incomprehensible Government form that we know we have to get right because it's the law. It takes a special mind to look at some of these questions and make it into a catchy essay. Mr. Rakoff has that kind of mind. It seems he can find a story in almost anything. And that's what this book is, a series of little stories, essays on the human condition in today's downtown New York City for the most part. The stories have a feeling that they were written for something else, one of the magazines for which Mr. Rakoff works pehaps. That doesn't matter, I don't read any of those magazines, so they're new to me. Like all good stories, these have a small lesson to teach. The point out the silliness of a lot of today's life. In looking at other reviews of this book, some people are more annoyed than amused. To them, all I can say is lighten up, so he doesn't like Bush, most New Yorkers liked the War Protester and the Ambulance Chaser.
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