Emabee Inspiration: David Rakoff


As an avid listener of This American Life, David Rakoff’s unique voice felt like home to my ears. His way of storytelling rumbles the fibers in your chest, stopping you and catching you in a moment of the story he’s relaying but also in a moment of your own life’s unfolding.

He’s witty and humorous and morose and matter-of-fact at the same time, leaving you feeling as though you’ve been touched to the bone, linking all edges of the human experience. His bold creativity and immense sense of self are inspiring.

He had an extraordinary talent for writing whole novels and stories in rhyming verse and spoken word.

He left us a lesson from this story (whole thing is a must listen) he shared on This American Life:

Central to living a life that is good, is a life that’s forgiving. We’re creatures of contact, regardless of whether we kiss or we wound. Still, we must come together. Though it may spell destruction, we still ask for more, since it beats staying dry—but, so lonely on shore. So we make ourselves open while knowing full well it’s essentially saying, “Please, come pierce my shell.

—-—Half Empty, performed as “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” in This American Life’s “Frenemies” episode, Sept 2009

David was also an artist, making gifts for his friends that he featured on his tumbler called “David’s Denim, Wallets, Linocuts, &c.”

[a painted box it Steven Petrow, by David Rakoff]

David died of cancer in August 2012 at the age of 47. He spoke with NPR’s Terry Gross in 2010.

This American Life did a tribute episode to David, and he performed at a This American Life cinema event.

David shares some thoughts on his own creative writing process, here.

[David’s book, my current notebook, and headphones to listen to him tell stories]


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