Book Review: Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff

Posted February 24, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David RakoffDon'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 by David Rakoff
Genres: Essays, Non-fiction
Published by Anchor on September 12, 2006
Pages: 222
Format: Paperback
Source: the library


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.

A series of 15 essays on the excess in our culture.

My Take
It’s well worth reading for Rakoff’s use of words as he has a beautiful way of writing whether he’s dishing or dashing his topic or himself. In general, he dishes himself, which I suspect is part of what attracts his fans. Each essay addresses a variety of issues as Rakoff leapfrogs from negative to positive and back again. History, politics, environment, consumerism, the shallowness and depth of the individual. And Rakoff. And he makes it work.

I can’t agree with the book description as I don’t find it “bitingly funny” nor is he “mercilessly skewering”. Then again, maybe I’m simply more vicious…*shrugs shoulders*

In this particular book, his essays are the result of his field trips into trying on different roles or simply investigating. There’s his short stint as a cabana boy in Miami, exploring life after death and the possibilities of plastic surgery in others, the outrageous excesses of the Concorde with the contrasting down-home qualities of Hooter Air, making fun of our obsession with beautiful food and contrasting it with snobbish superiority over people in homeless shelters, his praise for Steve Brill’s naturalist forays into Central Park combine with the Catholic Church and Linnaeus while regretting how out-of-date Brill’s ambitions are, and his exploration of fasting with his candid experiences.

I do love his honest willingness to let it all hang out whether it’s his decision to become a citizen of the U.S. and what is involved, his grandiose visions of his superior aid as a cabana boy—you can’t help but laugh with him as you imagine the same heroic achievements for yourself!

The silliness of hanging around outside for the Today show, the joys of crafting—I can definitely understand how Rakoff feels about this one!, and the craziness of Paris fashion week—his revenge on Karl Lagerfeld was a vicious paragraph. I suspect I most enjoyed his foray into the scavenger hunt, and I do wish he’d finished at the Midnight Madness. His thoughts on the Puppetry of the Penis were both hilariously funny and depressing as it describes the genital origami, blending it with his thoughts on 9/11.

Ooh, Mrs. Bush’s comment about ignoring the deaths of soldiers in Iraq seems much on a par with Hilary Clinton’s dismissal of the soldiers dying for their country, ignored in Benghazi. It’s too bad his insight into the Log Cabin Republicans’ strategies had to be right. The years they lost…sigh… I have to go along with Rakoff on Robert Knight. Disgusting and stupid. Christening him as the “Vaginal Punisher” seemed appropriate, jerk.

I found it odd that in one essay he found servitude by others disgusting, but embraces it in yet another.

It appears to be a general theme of excess that refers to America’s over-proportionate use of world resources. And he does make a few references here and there, it reads, however, as more of an excess in dreams and fears.

The Cover
The cover could be considered an excess of red—the background—and uncomfortable with the Louis XIVth-style chair. You’d be even more uncomfortable if you were sitting in that chair and watching the hand saw cut a circle in the floor around you!

I’m not sure how the title fits unless Don’t Get Too Comfortable is a reminder that Rakoff is holding up a mirror for himself and the reader.

Reviewed by Kathy Davie, who is fast gaining followers in Goodreads and Amazon for her honest book reviews. Passionate about reading, writing, and editing, she searches the Internet for tips, tricks, and warnings with a keen interest in ideas that will foster reading in children as well as adults while aiding writers in their craft. Kathy blogs daily at KD Did It Takes on Books.

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