"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Glory of the Essay

I love a long, involved novel as much as the next liberal arts major does (bring on post-colonialism!), and there's a place in my heart for an iPod as snug as the places in my wee little ears for those terrible earbuds, but today I hail the essay collection - specifically Half Empty, the latest from public radio dreamboat David Rakoff.

Thank you, www.prattlibrary.org, from which I grabbed the cover art.

What I mean is that being a connoisseur of LA public transportation (ahem, ahem) means I've found ways to kill - nay, enliven! - long stretches of time spent getting across town. As of yesterday Rakoff has sped to the top of the Time-Enliveners list. Odd, right? Half Empty enlivening? And from what I hear, I'll run into some especially sad patches near the end. But so far I've read about Rakoff making bad calls in music and in life, Rakoff being an inhibitedly short kid, and Rakoff asking what really is the deal with all those artless "artists" singing their hearts out in (but not paying the titular) RENT. This collection is as sensitive and relevant as Consider the Lobster and as punchy and personal as I Was Told There'd Be Cake.

I'm comparing contemporary American essays I like from NPR-ish types to contemporary American essays I like from NPR-ish types. So sue me. But when you're through with suing me, read this book! And if you're like me, it's segmented just right for public transportation trips.

Bet against me, and I will make you rich. I am the un-canary in the mine shaft. (Gas? I don't smell no gas!)
-from "The Bleak Shall Inherit"

1 comment:

Terry McCarty said...

Off-topic, but I wonder if any internal debate occurred over Tucker Max' recent in-store appearance.