The Big Rewind by Nathan Rabin

When you have Roger Ebert, Chuck Klosterman and Patton Oswalt chucking up praise on the back cover of your book, what else is there for anyone else to say? On top of that, this is a memoir, and I’ve never been entirely sure what I should say about such things. If someone’s life story kinda sucks, and is a boring read, why should I be piling on at that point? I don’t read a lot of memoirs or autobiographies, so maybe some are so hideously poorly written that it’s a reviewer’s  responsibility to the public at large to point it out on barely noticed blogs everywhere, but I haven’t had to plant that knife in anyone’s back. Yet.

This is a memoir I went into totally blind. While I knew of this “Onion” thing that is mentioned throughout the book and placed liberally in the author’s bio, it’s not something I ever spent much time perusing. I didn’t have any real clue who Nathan Rabin was when I grabbed his book off the shelf at the Friends of the Library Sale (sorry Nathan, bought the thing second hand, for less than a buck. But it did go to support a library, so don’t complain), and I think I probably got it just as much for it’s cover as for anything else. And thank god the cover was interesting enough to make me throw down my pennies for it.

Rabin is seriously funny, despite his having one of the saddest, most ridiculously ill-fated lives I can imagine. The guy makes Precious look truly blessed for only having to deal with AIDS and her abusive mother and molestering “father.” The only thing that appears to have gone ridiculously well for Rabin is his falling in with The Onion, and that has ended up blessing us all (apparently, if you read it. I really should look at it sometime).

The only part that dragged for me, ironically, was the bit towards the end of his relationship with an overly sexed up grad student who thought getting gang banged was the equivalent of a religious experience.  Other than that, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, addictive and a whole lot of other things that Roger Ebert already said about it on the back cover. At the end of the book, after the acknowledgements, there is one line in the center of a page, all to itself: ever feel like you’ve been cheated? Yes, I have, but not this time.

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