RIP David Rakoff


The theme of my day, thus far, has been loss.

I have somehow managed to misplace my daughter’s birth certificate. She needs it to get her driving permit tomorrow morning. I will have to go and get another copy. Pain in the ass.

I thought that I also lost her social security card; it turns out the husband has it. Thank God!

I could lament the fact that I have zero organizational skills or discuss my husband’s disenchantment with me today, but that would just trivialize what I have to say next.

David Rakoff died today after a long and well-documented battle with cancer. He was 47.  What I lost can be easily replaced; what the world lost today is irreplaceable.  With his passing the world lost a gifted writer with a unique voice.  He was my favorite cynical soul. After reading something he wrote or hearing him on NPR’s This American Life I would often have the urge to hop on the bus to Manhattan and find him, just so that I could tell him how much I enjoyed his work (I wish I had; I think if anyone would have appreciated having a stalker it would have been him). I defy anyone who has ever tried to write anything, particularly anything funny, to read his stuff and not want to have a cup of coffee with this guy.

His experiences may not have been anything like my experiences, I’m not a gay Jewish Canadian man, but I felt a connection to him. When I read essays/memoirs I usually have one of two reactions: I either wish I was the author or I thank God I’m not the author. He was the rare author for whom I could feel, almost simultaneously, both ways.

He had the uncanny ability to pull you in, to get you on his side, so to speak. For example, he hated cupcakes. Actually, he hated what the proliferation of cupcakeries in Manhattan said about the direction the city was taking.  I love cupcakes, but I cannot see a cupcake store in Manhattan without wondering if they are, in fact, the enemy.

And he wrote about so many things. Mostly this was a result of writing for money. If a job was going to pay him to write a story about hiking up a mountain, he would hike up a mountain (even though the last thing he really wanted to do at the time was hike up a mountain). But the story would always turn out to be the story he wanted to tell. It could end up being about hiking up a mountain and not being about hiking up a mountain at the same time. And he made it seem seamless; more about the journey than the destination.

His journey here wasn’t long enough. If there is a heaven, I hope they are not serving cupcakes.

Books by David Rakoff:

Half Empty (2011)

Don’t Get Too Comfortable (2005)

Fraud (2001)

2 thoughts on “RIP David Rakoff

  1. peachyteachy says:

    Read this ten minutes after hearing a re-broadcast of a Fresh Air interview on NPR. Sad to discover a new author under those circumstances, but I suppose that is how we live on.


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