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
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-where he is provided with his very own personal manservant-rarely have greed, vanity, selfishness, and vapidity been so mercilessly skewered. Somewhere along the line, our healthy self-regard has exploded into obliterating narcissism; our manic getting and spending have now become celebrated as moral virtues. Simultaneously a Wildean satire and a plea for a little human decency, Don't Get Too Comfortable shows that far from being bobos in paradise, we're in a special circle of gilded-age hell. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The title of this collection of humorous essays could also serve as a warning label for its readers. They'll want to stay on guard as GQ writer-at-large Rakoff (Fraud) skewers everything and everyone he encounters. His writing is at its best when trained on the pompous and ostentatious: flying on the Concorde or visiting an exclusive, $1,300-a-night resort off Belize. While attending the Paris couture shows, Rakoff reveals the silliness of the whole enterprise with quips about Karl Lagerfeld's pre-weight loss "large doughy rump" and the "dry spaghetti" of one model's hair. In another piece, a prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon tells Rakoff, "this is the Dark Ages" for cosmetic surgery (meaning that future generations will be amazed by the inevitable advances) before taking him into an examination room. While Rakoff's sardonic wit is clearly his greatest asset, it is sometimes his undoing; the same dry humor that works so well when aimed at the rich and decadent seems mean-spirited when applied to less prominent targets, like "Wildman" Steve Brill, who forages for food in New York City's parks. Still, Rakoff is generally a knowing observer of "first world problems," and his devilishly uncomfortable commentaries are generally quite funny. Agent, Irene Skolnick. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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September 11, 2006
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Excerpt from Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff
LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT
George W. Bush made me want to be an American. It was a need I had not known before. A desire that came over me in a rush one day, not unlike that of the pencil-necked honors student suddenly overwhelmed with the inexplicable urge to make a daily gift of his lunch money to the schoolyard tough. I have lived in the United States, first as a student then as a resident alien, under numerous other administrations, including what I once thought of as the nadir of all time: the Cajun-scented, plague-ravaged Reagan eighties in New York; horrible, black years of red fish and blue drinks. A time when greed was magically transformed from vice to virtue. And after that the even greedier nineties, when the money flowed like water and everybody's boat rose with the tide (except, of course, for those forgotten souls who had been provided not with boats but with stones, and no one told them. Oh well, tra la), and all through that time, aside from having to make sure not to get myself arrested at demonstrations, I was sufficiently satisfied with a civic life of paying taxes and the occasional protest.
But George changed all that. Even though I am not a Muslim and I come from a country that enjoys cordial relations with the United States, I no longer felt safe being here as just a lawful permanent resident. Under the cudgel-like Patriot Act, a shoot-first-ask-questions-later bit of legislation, there are residents who have been here since childhood, other folks who sired American-born children, who have found themselves deported--often to countries of which they have almost no firsthand knowledge--for the most minor, not remotely terrorist-related infractions. Those people are never coming back, at least not during this administration. I don't want to be put out of my home, and like it or not this is my home.