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David Rakoff, humorist with cynical view

DAVID RAKOFF DAVID RAKOFF (Tribeca Film Festival/2010)
Associated Press / August 11, 2012
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NEW YORK — David Rakoff, an award-winning humorist whose cynical outlook on life and culture won him a loyal following of readers and radio listeners, has died. He was 47.

Mr. Rakoff died Thursday after a long illness, Doubleday and Anchor Books announced. Mr. Rakoff had been open about his battles with cancer.

Mr. Rakoff wrote for The New York Times, Newsweek, and other publications and was a contributor to public radio’s ‘‘This American Life.’’ In October, his essay collection ‘‘Half Empty’’ won the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

Ira Glass, host of ‘‘This American Life,’’ wrote on the show’s blog: ‘‘He was my friend, our friend here at the radio show, and our brother in creating the program, making it into what it’s become,’’ he wrote. ‘‘We loved him. We’ll miss him.’’

Mr. Rakoff, a native of Canada who lived in New York, cultivated hipness and ironic distance from his subjects, usually outside the mainstream: American Buddhists who pay for lectures from Steven Seagal; Icelandic elf communicators; Loch Ness monster believers.

An essay in ‘‘Fraud,’’ published in 2001, was a memoir of his Hodgkin’s disease battle.

In addition to his work in the theater and television roles, Mr. Rakoff appeared in and adapted the screenplay for ‘‘The New Tenants,’’ a film that won an Academy Award for best live action short in 2010.

Doubleday plans to publish his final work next year. The ­title will be: ‘‘Love, Dishonor, ­Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish.’’

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