The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought To You By Pop Culture

Friday, August 21, 2009

I had such good intentions of getting this blog entry up early tonight, but then I spent 2 1/2 hours talking to my sister and the plan fell by the wayside. But we had to have our sister time, because it had been 22 whole hours since the last time we spoke and so we had a lot to catch up on. Or we're just really self-involved people who never get tired of talking about ourselves. I'm pretty sure it was one of those two things.

Today's book, "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. Using a specific song, album, book, film, or television show as a springboard to discuss a period in his life, Rabin recounts his life with biting wit."

I'm sure I don't even have to explain to any of my dear readers why this book appealed to me. But, me being me, I'm going to tell you anyway. I figured, a chance to talk about TV on my blog (as if I don't spend 80% of my time doing that anyway) - what could be better than that? Although I have made a goal for next week, to see how long I can go without mentioning TV on my blog (go ahead and place your guesses in the comments section about how long I will last - or go ahead and ignore my blatant attempts at inflating the number of comments I get - either one will work.)

Today's book turned out to be a lot darker than I had expected - but I really enjoyed it. I don't usually enjoy dark books - because I prefer my books to be like an episode of Brady Bunch, with a minor problem or two thrown in here and there but with everything ending happily. I also prefer my books to come with a laugh track, but I'm still waiting on that one. I think the problem is that when I read something I get totally lost in it (unless it's a completely boring book) and then I feel like I can't leave the mood of the book behind once I'm done - and so reading a dark books leaves me in a dark mood for hours - sometimes days - afterwards. But I'm glad that I pushed those concerns aside and read today's book anyway, because I really enjoyed it (despite it being vulgar, tacky, and incredibly bleak.) I also found it reassuring to find out that I'm not the only person in the world who sees the world through episodes of TV shows, or as I like to think of it "seeing the world through TV colored glasses."

I also really enjoyed the way the author was so honest about his own bad qualities - he didn't even bother trying to hide how self-involved he is - which is probably not a attribute I should admire in a person and yet I do. I have very little patience for people who pretend to be better than they really are. I prefer people who just throw all their bad qualities right out on the table from the beginning. I knew from the very beginning of today's book that the author was a member of the "throw your bad qualities right out there" club when he talked about how he always imagined his own funeral being an affair involving celebrities, a choir, and two days of festivities - because, as he puts it, "Not even death's sweet release can keep me from being self-indulgent and wasting every one's time."

Other favorite passage from the book include:

  • "At fourteen, I was a terrible excuse of a juvenile delinquent. I didn't drink. I didn't smoke. I didn't hot-wire cars or get girls pregnant or turn Grandma's life-support system into a bong. I had no prison record. All I ever did was ditch school, steal money from my dad, and treat authority figures abhorrently."

  • "I felt lost without my electronic best friend. I imagined that my television set would somehow sense my absence and embark on an Incredible Journey-like exodus to Arkham Asylum, hitching rides, hopping El trains, and dragging itself arduously across the concrete until it was finally reunited with its beloved owner."