If You Like David Sedaris, You’re Going Love David Rakoff’s “Half Empty”

David Sedaris might be the beloved hero of American comic personal essays, but until David Rakoff’s untimely death in 2012 it was Rakoff who delivered the darker, richer, and often more brutally honest goods. His 2010 collection of essays, Half Empty, would be his last, but his observations about the world, particularly the hypocrisies and pretentions of hipster culture and “the artist’s life,” accomplish the rare feat of being timeless even as they capture a particular era and place. Serving up equal portions of compassion and curmudgeonliness, Rakoff’s embrace of negativity—“even the most charmed life is a veritable travelogue of disappointment,” he writes—ultimately feels exhilarating, if only because its such a relief to discover that there’s company (wonderful company, at that) in disenchantment.