For more than 10 years, Nathan Rabin has had the unique job of writing for The Onion. But that's not really the unique part. What makes Rabin stand out in the history of the satirical newspaper is that he is responsible for writing the truth. Crazy, I know. Rabin is the head writer for the A.V. Club, the entertainment portion of The Onion known for its critiques and reviews of music, movies, and society at large. Rabin is now the author of The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture (Scribner), which chronicles his fantastic journey through a troubled childhood and the strange way the vapidity of pop culture ended up saving his life. Using ubiquitous artifacts of popular entertainment from decades past, Rabin tells his story of growing up without a mother, spending time in a mental hospital and in foster care, feeling suicidal, and relating to his father, who simply never manages to catch a break. Part Chuck Klosterman, part Augusten Burroughs, Rabin's life is a serious head trip. And although books relating pop culture to an author's life are by no means unique, Rabin makes a heartfelt case for the worthiness of tacky and crass culture. Who would have ever thought MTV, Dr. Dre, and the Magnetic Fields could give you warm fuzzies?
Sat., July 18, 7 p.m., 2009