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9 Airport Featured Titles- Staff Picks
1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z
7 Local Warehouse Humor- Anthologies
14 Remote Warehouse Anthologies- Essays

This title in other editions

Fraud

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Fraud Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Erla Steffansdottir makes her miving as a piano teacher, but is more widely known as one of Iceland's most noted Elf communicators. Her maps of Hidden People sites are on sale in tourist shops all around Iceland.She claims she has been seeing elves and Hidden People her whole life. I have been led to believe that my chances of meeting Erla would be slim to none, that she is difficult, that she will not be helpful, that she traffics in arbitrary rivalries in the Elf-spotting community.

I'm inclined to believe the rumors after my initial encounter when I first call to set up the interview. Erla actually seems to be sobbing on the other end of the phone, all the while talking to me. Then again, in her defense, who actually picks up the phone in the middle of a crying jag? Besides, without having to push, she tells me to come the next day at four o'clock.

I was expecting a wild hair, clanking jewelry, a tatterdemalion velvet cape from whose folds wafted the scent of incense, a house full of candles, dream catchers, cats, and bad art. Instead, I found a friendly if somewhat shy woman in her forties living in a lovely apartment on the top floor of a Reykjavik townhouse with a bay window. Aside from a tiny elf figure made of three painted stones, piled up snowman style outside her front door, Erla's house is decorated in the tasteful, middle class aesthetic one might expect of a piano teacher: landscape paintings, old furniture. The place is warm and cozy on a particularly blustering, windy day.

Erla's friend Bjork is there to translate, although Erla's English is sufficient to slap me down at our rather awkward beginning. I ask when she first realized she could see Hidden People. "This is very stupid to ask when I see. When I was born. Like that one right there." she says, indicating a place on the coffee table beside a Danish modern glass ashtray. She then catches herself. "Oh that's right. You can't see it." she shakes her head slightly, amused at her forgetfulness that others do not possess her gift. It's a somewhat disingenuous moment, like when your friend, newly back from a semester in Paris, says to you, "It's like, uhm, oh I forget the English word, how you say....fromage?"

Apparently the coffee table in front of me is a veritable marketplace of elves milling about, many of them in separate dimensions and oblivious to one another. Bjork takes over, essentially ferrying me through this gnomish cocktail party:

"One sits there, two are walking over here, one sits there. When she plays music they come. It attracts them."

I am suddenly overcome with a completely inappropriate urge: the barely suppressed impulse to slam my hand down on the coffee table really, really hard, right where she's pointing.

Apparently the elves on the table are in too remote a dimension, and are too small to talk to. Conveniently, every home also comes equipped with a House Elf, about the size of the average three-year-old, with whom one can communicate. "Every home?" I ask.

"Yes you have one in your house in New York, too." Bjork assures me.

If only my House Elf, sick and tired of my skepticism, was taking pains to prove his existence once and for all by cleaning my apartment for me at that very moment, I joke. Leadest of balloons.

But Bjork points out that house elves are a privilege, not a right. When the energy of a given house gets too negative, she says, when there is drinking or fighting, the elves will leave. Not terribly surprisingly, mysticism, New Age philosophy, Recovery-speak, and elves are conflated as one. Erla says that elves are a manifestation of nature, they are inherently good; without them we would choke on our own pollution. There is almost no more urban point of view of nature than this pastoral, idyllic one: Humankind bad, Nature good. As in, drinking and fighting bad, elves and flowers good. But it's a false dichotomy. After all, following this logic, Sistine Chapel bad, Ebola virus good?

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

christijensen, October 19, 2006 (view all comments by christijensen)
David Rakoff says that all Canadians know what stars are from Canada and which ones aren't. I think his Candian-ism is alive and kicking in this very funy and self-depreciating tome. He couldnt be any funnier - unless, of course, he was at one of my parties! Read this one and then buy one for your friends.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780767906319
Author:
Rakoff, David
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Author:
Epstein, Joseph
Location:
New York, NY
Subject:
American wit and humor
Subject:
Form - Essays
Subject:
American essays
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Popular Culture
Subject:
Humor-Anthologies
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st paperback ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Series Volume:
no. 313
Publication Date:
April 2002
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 9.99 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Anthologies
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Essays
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Journalism » General
History and Social Science » Journalism » Journalists
History and Social Science » Politics » Featured Titles

Fraud Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.00 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Broadway Books - English 9780767906319 Reviews:
"Review" by , "To be sure, Rakoff can issue a withering snark with the best of them. But once his rapier wit has sliced the buttons off its target's clothing, revealing the quivering, vulnerable mass within, his fundamental sense of decency gets the best of him and he can't resist reaching out and helping the poor unfortunate soul get back on its feet, straighten its duds and sally forth with a heartfelt 'Don't worry, it's not you. It's me.'" (read the entire Salon.com review here)
"Review" by , "David Rakoff's hilarious, bittersweet stories are epic struggles — between smoky bars and the great outdoors, management and labor, Santa Claus and Sigmund Freud, New York versus everywhere else, and, not least, neighbor-to-the-North against South. Rakoff is such an American original it turns out he's Canadian. Vive the brain drain!"
"Review" by , "Rakoff likes to paint himself as urbane to a fault, an outsider anywhere unpaved. But then, in the woods or on a mountaintop, he reveals himself, despite his searing and hilarious observations, to be a completely unrelenting romantic."
"Review" by , "Rakoff possesses a sociologist's eye for places where today's consoling myths reside."
"Review" by , "With Fraud, David Rakoff manages to successfully pass himself off as the wittiest and most perceptive man in the world."
"Synopsis" by , A dishy, incisive exploration of gossip from celebrity rumors to literaryromans à clef, personal sniping to political slander by one our “great essayists” (David Brooks)

To his successful examinations of some of the most powerful forces in modern life envy, ambition, snobbery, friendship the keen observer and critic Joseph Epstein now addsGossip. No trivial matter, despite its reputation, gossip, he argues, is an eternal and necessary human enterprise. Proving that he himself is a master of the art, Epstein serves up delightful mini-biographies of the Great Gossips of the Western World along with many choice bits from his own experience. He also makes a powerful case that gossip has morphed from its old-fashioned best clever, mocking, a great private pleasure to a corrosive new-school version, thanks to the reach of the mass media and the Internet. Gossip has invaded and changed for the worse politics and journalism, causing unsubstantiated information to be presented as fact. Contemporary gossip claims to reveal truth, but as Epstein shows, its our belief in truth that gossip today threatens to undermine and destroy.

Written in his trademark erudite and witty style,Gossipcaptures the complexity of this immensely entertaining subject.

"Synopsis" by , Journalist, actor, and radio commentator Rakoff has gathered in his first book what can best be described as essays on contemporary culture. And therein lies Rakoff's genius and his burgeoning appeal. The wry and the heartfelt join in his prose to resurrect that most neglected of literary virtues: wit.
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