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‘Onion’ Writer Rewinds Big-Time for Memoir

Nathan Rabin had a good excuse to escape. His young life, to put it mildly, was a mess. Dysfunctional family. Mental hospitals. Foster homes. So, as a teenager, Rabin immersed himself in the world of pop culture and never looked back.

Rabin, now 33 and living in Chicago, is head writer of The Onion's entertainment section, The A.V. Club. He is perhaps best known for his online column, My Year of Flops, which has attracted a cult following.

Now Rabin's "The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought to You by Pop Culture" (Scribner, 338 pp., $25), out this week, could do the same, written with his trademark humor, quirkiness and self-deprecation. It's an homage to pop culture.

"When I was 12, my sister and I stole a jar of quarters and went to see 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure,'" Rabin says. "I had an epiphany right there in the theater. The rest of the world just disappeared. It was like being sprung from prison."

He has been a kid in the candy shop ever since.

Rabin says landing a job at the satirical The Onion was like "winning the cosmic lottery" and calls his 10 years writing for the Onion reader - "primarily male college students, media-savvy, cynical and irreverent" - the best years of his life. "I needed to find a place where everyone was a misfit."

In his memoir, Rabin talks of Kurt Cobain ("we embraced him as a kindred spirit"), Reservoir Dogs ("it hit me like an atom bomb"), Rod Stewart ("the poster boy for squandered potential") and the most difficult celebrity interview he ever conducted: Kiss' Gene Simmons. "He's the king. It would be very, very hard to top him."

He regrets he never got the chance to interview Michael Jackson. He says he was "blindsided" by his death.

"I felt a certain overwhelming emptiness. It's easier to love him now that he's dead. You can have the idealized 1983 lovable Michael again."

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