David Rakoff

Just when you think you might nod off from the clichés that smother our media culture, David Rakoff responds with the bracing and brutal power of great writing. Gifted with rare “verbal acuity,” as he puts it (with an always-implicit eye-roll), he has elevated magazine hackwork to a poignantly funny art of observation and self-revelation. If you’ve heard him on This American Life, you know he also has an actor’s delivery. His droll, nasally, world-weary radio persona is his most hilarious character. His latest collection, Half Empty (Doubleday, $24.95), on the power of negative thinking is, as usual, part memoir, part reportage. And while the targets—a Disney Dream House, a porn expo—may at times seem too easy, Rakoff never makes the experience less than hilariously onerous. MARK D. FEFER

Thu., Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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