August 14, 2012: The Waiting (RIP David Rakoff, Part Two)

I never met him, but David Rakoff and I got off to a lousy start.     When I was first signed by the literary agency that’s still waiting for me to finish my current book project, my agent sent me Rakoff’s first book, Fraud, with a short note attached: “Love your manuscript, no changes, but worried that you’re not so sympathetic to readers. Read David Rakoff for example of how to be dark but still sympathetic.”

I phoned my agent. “Why does every character in every book have to be sympathetic?” I snarled. “I’m not going for sympathy here. I’m not sympathetic.”

“Read Rakoff,” came the reply.

I did, and I saw my agent’s point: in essays in which Rakoff griped about hiking a mountain in cheap shoes and his horrific experiences as a 22-year-old cancer patient, he managed to be both curmudgeonly and compassionate at the same time, by tempering his whining with some gentle (but still snooty) insights into the human condition.

Read Rakoff.

David Rakoff: “The Waiting”:

http://byliner.com/david-rakoff/stories/the-waiting–2

Thing I Hate Today: Sitting in the urologist’s waiting room for an hour

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