The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture

Dear Reader,

The Onion movie reviewer Nathan Rabin’s memoir The Great Rewind starts off fine enough, hilariously and semi-heart-breakingly covering his early years, his father’s illness, his biological mother’s faults, and his stay in a mental institution then a group home, all while employing the descriptive language of the men of his time. (“Suckitude,” for example.) He cleverly ties chapter headings to song lyrics or movie lines, thereby his link to “pop culture” and the book’s subtitle.

But then something happens: Rabin veers into long-winded essays about his experiences with a failed cable movie review show most readers won’t care about and his depressingly unhealthy romances, most readers won’t care about. Then his concluding chapter seems to undo much of what he wrote in the preceding chapters. In a few rushed and unconvincing paragraphs, he says he’s led a good life. What about everything that happened? What did he learn?

What I most wanted to read about is what led Rabin to be good at writing movie reviews—he has to be good to write for The Onion. Yes, his father plied with lots of old musicals and he discovered musicians mostly on his own, and this influenced him, but how did he learn to write? How does he keep his audience? Where is he going with his career?

Note: Rabin overuses “doppelganger,” a fun word that should be used sparingly so as to not lessen its effectiveness.

Another Note: Knowing Rabin writes for The Onion, I keep wondering if most of his story is bullshit. If so, good for him. His style reminded me a bit of Hunter S. Thompson’s. A compliment, I believe.

Still One More Note:  I love the book’s cover.


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July 2009
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Photo Credits: Header - Barbara McNichol, Author - Bernadette Garcia

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