David Rakoff, an “East Asian Studies Major Who Has Forgotten Most of His Japanese” and one of New York’s finest essayists, passed away Thursday evening following a long battle with cancer. He was 47.
Mr. Rakoff, a frequent contributor to NPR’s This American Life and one of the few ever asked to guest-host the show, was the author of three books: Fraud, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty. In 2011, the writer had his poignant essay about cancer published in The New York Times, which highlighted both the comedian’s pathos and sense of humor:
We like to think that the empathy broadcast with the swooping, downward intonation of the “aaawwww” is an evolutionary comfort; something we are programmed to welcome and offer freely ourselves. As a comment on something that has already happened, it probably works. But as an anticipatory tool, it does not soften the blow, indeed it does the opposite. It leaves you exposed, like grabbing onto the trunk of a tree for support in a storm only to find the wood soaked through and punky and coming apart in your hands. The sweetest bedtime-story delivery is no help when the words it delivers are a version of ” . . . and behind this door is a tiger. Brace yourself.”
Have a fantastic day.