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The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Cultureby Nathan Rabin
Synopses & Reviews
Nathan Rabin viewed pop culture as a life-affirming form of escape throughout his childhood and adolescence. As an adult, pop culture became his life. Head writer for The Onion A.V. Club for more than a decade, Rabin uses specific books, songs, albums, films, and television shows as springboards for dissecting his Dickensian life story in his acclaimed memoir The Big Rewind.
Rabin writes movingly and hilariously about how pop culture helped save him from suicidal despair, institutionalization, and parental abandonment during a childhood that sent him ricocheting from a mental hospital to a foster home to a group home for emotionally disturbed adolescents. A fun book about depression, The Big Rewind is ultimately 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.
With comic dissertations on everything from The Simpsons to The Great Gatsby, and from Grey Gardens to Dr. Dre, The Big Rewind chronicles Rabin's improbable yet all-too-true journey through life, and its fortuitous intersections with the dizzyingly 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.)
"[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
Ultimately, underneath all of the quirky structure, mewling apathy, and caustic wit, Rabin tells a sweet tale of finding one's place in life. That he ends up using his love of popular driftwood as a catalyst for his reviewing career (and gets to meet celebrities!) is the frosting on the cake. Give this to fans of The Catcher in the Rye and Reservoir Dogs." Booklist
"[Rabin] has packed [The Big Rewind], like a cannon, full of caustic wit and bruised feelings. The result is a lo-fi, sometimes crude book that is nonetheless more effective (and affecting) than it has any right to be." The New York Times
"An edgy and funny memoir about a childhood that wasn't so amusing." The Boston Globe
"Nathan Rabin's life reads like a fanboy's collision with Dostoyevsky. This hilarious, sad, truthful memoir is compulsively readable....He chronicles his adventures with a cross between utter shamelessness and painful honesty, and he is very funny." Roger Ebert
"Nathan's memoir is your memoir is my memoir. You will experience moments of sour disagreement, followed by, 'Oh wow, me too!' A book that reads like a conversation. Terrific." Patton Oswalt
"Rabin writes like the secret love child of Woody Allen and Lester Bangs: honest, erudite, neurotically manic, and very funny." Neal Pollack
From the head entertainment writer at The Onion A.V. Club, a hilarious and brutally-honest memoir told through the prism of pop culture.
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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