Posted in books | comedy | music on August 10, 2012

David Rakoff

When writer David Rakoff died Thursday at the age 47, he was barely the age he said he was always "meant" to be. In his 2010 memoir, Half Empty, he wrote, "Everyone has an internal age, a time in life when one is, if not one's best, then at very least one's most authentic self. I always felt that my internal clock was calibrated somewhere between 47 and 53 years old."

Rakoff died in New York City after a long struggle with cancer -- an ordeal that he wrote about with sobering honesty and biting wit.

"I can see a great beauty in acknowledging the fact that the world is dark," Rakoff said in a 2010 interview. It's healthy, he insisted, to employ "a certain kind of clear-eyed examination of the world as it is."

Rakoff was born in Montreal, studied East Asian literature and was diagnosed with lymphoma at 22. He recovered, and wrote a fan letter to humorist David Sedaris, which led to frequent contributions to This American Life. In his first essay on This American Life, Rakoff reflects on his role as -- oddly enough -- Sigmund Freud in the Christmas display of an upscale department store.

"In the window I fantasized about starting an entire Christmas Freud movement: Freuds everywhere, providing grown-ups and children with the greatest gift of all: Insight."

In May, Rakoff and some other This American Life contributors appeared onstage before a live audience in New York City. By then, a recent surgery to remove a tumor had severed nerves in his left arm, leaving him unable to feel or move that limb. He spoke wistfully about the pleasure he once took in the rigorous study of modern dance:

"You become this altered humming -- dare I say beautiful -- working instrument of placement and form and concentration," he said. "But like I said, that's a long time ago and a version of myself that has long since ceased to exist. Before I became such an observer ..." His voice trailed off and he was not able finish. He just stood there on the stage. But then, he did something wonderful: He danced. Gracefully, always gracefully. [NPR]

Rest in Peace David.

Some videos starring David are below.

Gay Writer, David Rakoff, on cancer & his last book

The Sheriff of Prospect Park w/Dave Hill + David Rakoff

David Rakoff in "This American Life: The Invisible Made Visible"

"Stomp!*" with Dave Hill, David Rakoff, and Martha Plimpton

David Rakoff - Half Empty

David Rakoff and Dave Hill Book Tour

David Rakoff: Why I Write (And Why It Only Gets Harder)



Comments (8)


Fuck off cancer.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2012 7:22 PM

Loved "Dont Get Too Comfortable" Thanks for this BV...

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2012 7:32 PM

A huge fixture of the comedy community and the brainiac community. I can't believe we'll never see another project of his gome to fruition. RIP you great man.

Posted by Anonymous | August 10, 2012 8:08 PM

Agreed with 8:08, except my favorite quality of his work was how palatable it was for non-brainiacs. I knew some real dummies who would squeal with glee whenever he was on the radio or this american life, I might even be one of them myself. This is a crushing blow and a rare case of being personally affected by a "celebrity" death. I feel lucky as a new yorker that I was able to bump into him a handful of times. The first time I recognized him by his voice. He was impressed by the fact that I was an avid radio listener as well as avid book avoider. A fact he found out when I told him that don't get too comfortable was the only book I had read... that year. He will be missed.

Posted by brett | August 10, 2012 10:46 PM


Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2012 6:23 AM

I heard he was gay.

Posted by Anonymous | August 11, 2012 9:06 AM

He loved grape Fanta.

Posted by Anonymous | August 12, 2012 8:16 PM

r.i.p we all wish you could of lived longer. It's not fair.

Posted by jordon | July 24, 2013 2:42 PM

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