[Ed Note: If one more mention of the word ‘Sedaris’,
even if in a strictly non-David Sedaris centric context, is going to
loosen your bowels, save yourself the trouble and just skip to the Ron Jeremy movie review thing now]
So, I was thinking I was pretty clever when I came up with the idea to rip into David Rakoff’s Fraud
by saying how he’s soooo clearly trying to be David Sedaris, and how
he’s soooo clearly not. I bet I was even feeling more proud of my own
cleverness then the 58 or so other people who posted their reviews on
Amazon.com and came more or less the same conclusion.
Rakoff isn’t David Sedaris: the difference is real, but not all that
great. It’s like comparing Jet Li to Jackie Chan (Li probably being the
better martial artist, Chan being, undeniabley quicker and more
entertaining). A la Li, David Rakoff is probably smarter, and though
Sedaris trades on the the borderline unbelivable novelty of his
life-experience, Rakoff has, unless Sedaris is holding back his essay
on having walked in space, led the more worldly life. Sedaris is just
the better writer. Rakoff has as much, if not more novelty to work with
as Sedaris (having lived in Japan, had cancer, blah blah blah), but is
so much less funny and sharp with it. Going any further into the
difference between David and David is besides the point though. Between
Hong Kong and Hollywood, there’s more than enough room for both Li and
Chan, and the world can accomodate both Rakoff and Sedaris, easily.
The fundamental problem with Fraud
isn’t who it isn’t, but what it isn’t; which is well organized. Out of
the ten-or-so essays in it, there are some good ones – but they’re all
at the back, and you probably won’t make it that far. The first couple
essays are mediocre in their pacing and constantly making heavy,
probably impenetrable, references to Audrey Hepburn era classic (i.e.
classically gay) films, that you wonder how you’re going to make it
through the chapter.
How do you do it? You skip. After the
second or third essay in the collection, you’ll be skipping lines like
Fraud were a biology textbook and you have an exam on it in three
hours. That’s how bad you’ll just want it to be done. Things which
rhyme with the author’s last name which would be more fun to do than
read his book: slack off, snack off, yak off, etc.etc.etc.