I was on my way home from Mendocino a couple weeks ago when I heard on the radio that writer, David Rakoff, had died. Like so many writers who have admired his work, the news was like a punch in the gut. He was an incredible writer–intelligent, funny, and most of all, unflinchingly honest, not just about the how he saw the world, but also how he saw himself. He seemed entirely comfortable in his skin–flaws, neuroses and all–and wrote long, meandering adventures-of-sentences that left me laughing at their darkly, humorous insights and awestruck by their beauty. The fact that he was 47 when he passed is not lost on me. As a writer who, in many ways, feels as though her career is just getting started, the thought of it all ending now leaves me breathless. Like David Rakoff, I spent many years gripped by fear, wanting desperately to write full-time, but being too afraid to make the leap. And like Rakoff, my therapist helped me take the plunge.
Sometimes, a writer comes along whose voice is so distinct, you know, from the first moment you hear or read their work, you are hearing a work of genius, a true original. That was David Rakoff . . . at least to me.
Yesterday, Warrington sent me a link to a special broadcast of The American Life, featuring David Rakoff reading some of his essays. So, once again, I invite you to take a break from whatever you’re doing and pull up a chair. Click the link below, then click on any of the segments highlighted in red. Or, click the “download” option beneath his picture and listen to the entire show. I first listened on my phone. I suspect you will be as enchanted and as heartbroken as I.