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The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Cultureby Nathan Rabin
Synopses & Reviews
As a child and teenager, Nathan Rabin viewed pop culture as a life-affirming form of escape. Today, pop culture is his life. For more than a decade, he's served as head writer for A.V. Club, the entertainment section of the Onion. In The Big Rewind, Rabin shares his too-strange-for-fiction life story. From a psilocybin-addled trip to the Anne Frank House to having focus groups for his movie-review panel show opine that all the male critics seemed "gay" and that the show as a whole was "too gay," Rabin discusses his personal evolution in prose as hilarious as it is unexpectedly poignant.
Using a specific song, album, book, film, or television show as a springboard to discuss a period in his life, Rabin recounts his heartwarming tale of triumph over adversity with biting wit and unwise candor. The pop culture touchstones Rabin uses here reflect his broad frame of reference with comic dissertations on The Simpsons, The Catcher in the Rye, Dr. Dre, Grey Gardens, The Great Gatsby, the Magnetic Fields, the uncanny parallels between Ol' Dirty Bastard and John F. Kennedy, and how the stock market mirrors the pimp game.
Rabin writes movingly about how pop culture helped save him from suicidal despair, institutionalization, and parental abandonment — throughout a childhood that sent him ricocheting from a mental hospital to a foster home to a group home for emotionally disturbed adolescents. The Big Rewind is also a touching narrative of a motherless child's search for family and acceptance and a darkly comic valentine to Rabin's lovable, hard-luck dad.
Featuring cameos by Billy Bob Thornton, a vomiting Topher Grace, and Barack Obama, The Big Rewind chronicles the surreal journey of Rabin's life and its intersection with the dizzying, maddening, wonderful world of entertainment.
"Rabin, a writer for the Onion's arts section, endured a dysfunctional childhood marked by parental abandonment, a stint in a mental hospital and an adolescence spent in a group home and a drug-ridden co-op house. And in this memoir, he views his life through the blurry lens of formative cultural influences. His episodic narrative recounts a sarcastic, insecure youth's gonzo misadventures with a cast of freaks, misfits and aloof or cruelly promiscuous girlfriends, then moves on to adult run-ins with air-sick celebrities, bored prostitutes and nutty Hollywood types. Convinced that cultural tastes reveal the soul, like a My Space page, Rabin opens each chapter with an earnest (though rarely incisive) appreciation of some favorite in a personal canon that ranges from rap albums to The Great Gatsby, and intrusively peppers his writing with pop culture references. There are, alas, limits to the evocative power of pop culture references, and the author's arcane allusions — 'Susanne and Jack's relationship was like a gender-switched version of the star-crossed duo in the Stephen Malkmus song "Jenny and the Ess-Dog"' — test them. Rabin's vigorous, smart-assed prose sometimes brings the sideshow vividly to life, but it's marred by self-conscious fanboyism and labored jokiness." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[U]nderneath all of the quirky structure, mewling apathy, and caustic wit, Rabin tells a sweet tale of finding ones place in life." Booklist
"[T]he author transforms his miserable childhood and prolonged battles with depression into an improbably entertaining, even uplifting tale.... Alternately engaging, maddening, hilarious and excessive." Kirkus Reviews
"The Big Rewind...has something real and scuffed and quite winning at its core." New York Times
From the head writer of the Onion's entertainment column comes a painfully funny memoir as seen through the sturdy prism of pop culture. Through music, books, films, and television, Rabin shares his too-strange-for-fiction life story.
From the head writer at The Onion A.V. Club, a painfully funny memoir as seen through the sturdy prism of pop culture—for fans of Chuck Klosterman and Augusten Burroughs.
As a child and teenager, Nathan Rabin viewed pop culture as a life-affirming form of escape. As an adult, pop culture became his life. For more than a decade he’s served as head writer for The Onion A.V. Club, and here, by way of music, books, films, and television, he shares his too-strange-for-fiction life story.
Using a specific book, song, album, film, or television show as a springboard to discuss a period in his life, Rabin recounts his Dickensian upbringing with biting wit and brutal, perhaps unwise candor. Throughout a traumatic childhood that sent him ricocheting from a mental hospital to a foster home to a group home for emotionally disturbed adolescents, Rabin reveals that not only did pop culture shape and mold him, it helped save him from suicidal depression, institu- tionalization, and parental abandonment. Perhaps the most entertaining book ever written about depression and sweet, sweet sexual humiliation, The Big Rewind is also an emotional tale of a motherless child’s search for family and acceptance and a darkly comic valentine to Rabin’s irascible, lovable, hard-luck dad.
Featuring unexpected cameos by Billy Bob Thornton, a vomiting Topher Grace, and some dude named Barack Obama, The Big Rewind chronicles the surreal journey of Rabin’s life, and its intersection with the dizzying, maddening, wonderful world of entertainment.
About the Author
Nathan Rabin was born a bicentennial baby in Kansas City, Missouri. During a childhood that could easily be described as "Dickensian," he spent his formative years in Chicago and came of age in the Jewish Children's Bureau group home system. While still a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Rabin began writing regularly for a plucky local satirical publication called The Onion. Rabin quickly rose up the ranks of The Onion's entertainment section, The A.V. Club, to become its first, and to date, only, Head Writer. In 2004 and 2005 Rabin was a regular critic on AMC's Movie Club With John Ridley. With the A.V. Club, he co-wrote the interview collection Tenacity Of The Cockroach and is currently in the process of co-writing the A.V. Club's upcoming book, which will be published by Scribner. In 2007 he began the cultishly revered, bi-weekly online column, "My Year Of Flops," a feature so popular he decided to continue it indefinitely, despite the project's title. He lives in Chicago with his two cats, Sweetie Pie and Maggie May.
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