Summer Podcast Series: Author Nathan Rabin

Aug 13, 2009 1:10pm

In our continuing effort to break up the podcast interviews with policymakers and politicians with some Summer-themed guests, this week we interviewed Nathan Rabin, head writer of The Onion’s A.V. Club and author of “The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture.” (As part of this Summer theme, a couple of weeks ago we interviewed Judd Apatow, writer/director of “Funny People,” starring Adam Sandler.)

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or by clicking HERE. The Political Punch Podcast is produced by Huma Khan.

Critic Roger Ebert blurbs “The Big Rewind” thusly: “Nathan Rabin's life reads like a fanboy's collision with Dostoyevsky. This hilarious, sad, truthful memoir is compulsively readable — a page-turning soap opera about a child abandoned by his mother; loved by his wise, thrice-divorced, painfully crippled, often unemployed father; shuttled through foster homes and asylums; and yet with an invincible sense of humor that led him to contribute briefly to the original Onion in Madison, then leave over 'creative differences,' then rejoin the paper as a film critic for its A.V. Club for the last decade… He chronicles his adventures with a cross between utter shamelessness and painful honesty, and he is very funny.”

It’s a moving and interesting book, funny and disconcerting and definitely worth a read.

“I like to think it’s a fun book about depression,” he said.

It’s also very revealing of some dark and painful parts of his life that the world would otherwise not know about. I asked if he had any hesitation in revealing these raw nerves.

“I’ve always been something of a shameful emotional exhibitionist,” Rabin said, “and I felt like I had this really great story, it was kind of bottled up inside me.”

Rabin said he “was trying to turn something that was negative into something positive, trying to find kind of meaning and value out of something that was, like hell, and I think part of it is you get older and these pains start to dissipate a little bit, they don’t hurt quite as much, you have more perspective so while I was writing about all this stuff that happened to me it was almost like I was writing about a different person. … Where there was kind of this remove that made it a lot easier and it was a cathartic experience.”

Pop culture was (and is) a huge part of Rabin’s life. He described his first viewing of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure as an “epiphany” that made him think, “Oh my God, I want to be a part of anything that could bring such joy and such release and escape from people.”

“One of the reasons why I really gravitated to pop culture,” he said, “was because it was a form of family and I kind of have spent my life looking for family, looking for structure.”

We also talked about the ramifications of writing about real people who can reach out to you to take issue with their portrayal, journalists being on the other end of journalism, and his fascinating life. Give it a listen.

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes or by clicking HERE.

– jpt


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