I’m generally a big fan of depressive ruminations, so you can imagine my dismay in discovering Nathan Rabin’s memoir The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture is funny and a fast read. Rabin’s memoir focuses on his involuntary commitment to a mental hospital after a suicide attempt, followed by getting dumped in a group home as an adolescent after his mother abandons him and his father, who is disabled, can no longer care for him. Rabin is a film critic and head writer for The Onion’s AV Club, so his memoir is organized with chapter headings that refer to movies and other pop culture influences. A cross between Susanna Kaysen and Chuck Klosterman, mental patient meets pop culture aficionado, if you will. As someone who spent my teen years sobbing on the bedroom floor with my headphones on, commiserating with Morrissey on the turntable, I felt like I had met my long lost twin when I first heard about Rabin’s memoir on NPR. I immediately put a hold on it at the library.
When I saw my hold was first on the list, I realized it probably had less to do with my enthusiastic response to the NPR interview and more to do with the fact that no one else likes to read about adolescent angst as much as I do. As soon as I got the book home, I pored through Rabin’s memoir with the speed of an emo kid washing her hands with razorblade soap. The problem is I couldn’t stop laughing. That just bugged me. How could this guy turn his anguish into joy and inspiration? Where was the misery, the long lectures on how stigmatized and soul-crushing our mental health treatment is in this country? Where was the blame for parents who can’t handle responsibility? I expect to be horrified by this man’s atrocious upbringing. Instead, I was entertained and uplifted by his story.
So, if you’re not like me and you like your books to enliven and entertain rather than amplify your depressive moods, I recommend you reserve a copy of the The Big Rewind for yourself.