Photograph by Larry Busacca/Getty Images.
Writer David Rakoff, best known for his trenchant essays and his contributions to This American Life, died Thursday after losing his battle with cancer. He was 47.
Rakoff published three books: Fraud, Don’t Get Too Comfortable, and Half Empty. He was writing Half Empty, a defense of pessimism that won him the Thurber Prize for American Humor, when he was diagnosed with cancer.
In a 2011 New York Times essay, Rakoff wrote about prolonged illness:
There are stretches of triumph that feel like cosmic rewards for good behavior followed by inexplicable setbacks that seem like indictments of your character. With so much muddy logic crowding out reason, it’s best when news, good or bad, is delivered quickly and clearly. I will forever be grateful to my oncologist for opening the door and saying, “Damn it, the tumor’s 10 percent bigger,” before he even said hello.
Rakoff's death was reported by Third Beat, and later confirmed by others including TAL and the Huffington Post.
Brow Beat will have more on Rakoff and his legacy shortly. In the meantime you can listen to a heartbreakingly funny live performance Rakoff delivered at a This American Life show earlier this year here.