I had only heard David Rakoff a couple times on This American Life, so I was not prepared to be as moved as I was by the news of his death yesterday, at the age of 47, after a quick bout with cancer (ironically the result of radiation for an earlier form of lymphoma). I (all about me) happened to be on the road today thanks to responsibilities to chauffeur the Mrs. to the Detroit Airport. This gave me a chance to hear the noon broadcast of Terry Gross’ Fresh Air show. She replayed excerpts from interviews she had done with Rakoff in 2001 and 2010. Rakoff was obviously funny, dark, and clever, which explains his winning the James Thurber Prize for American Humor last year. But he was also thoughtful as the excerpts he reads on these interviews attest. I highly recommend the show. (Beware, the show is not 2k.)
Listeners should also know that Rakoff was anything but a believer. He was at best (near as I can tell) an agnostic, though of Jewish descent, outspokenly homosexual, and almost always irreverent. Despite these attributes, he was a tribute to the maker he did not acknowledge. Rakoff demonstrated so many of those remarkable qualities that separate human beings from the rest of creation. As such he also showed how great God’s creatures can be even in a willfully fallen state. Creation suffers when we lose such talented creatures.