When memoirist and head writer for "The A.V. Club" Nathan Rabin first set out to write about obsessed music fans, he had no idea the journey would take him to the deepest recesses of both the pop culture universe and his own mind. Read more...
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When memoirist and head writer for "The A.V. Club" Nathan Rabin first set out to write about obsessed music fans, he had no idea the journey would take him to the deepest recesses of both the pop culture universe and his own mind. For two very curious years, Rabin, who Mindy Kaling called "smart and funny" in "The New Yorker," hit the road with two of music's most well-established fanbases: Phish's hippie fans and Insane Clown Posse's notorious "Juggalos." Musically or style-wise, these two groups could not be more different from each other, and Rabin, admittedly, was a cynic about both bands. But once he gets deep below the surface, past the caricatures and into the essence of their collective cultures, he discovers that both groups have tapped into the human need for community. Rabin also grapples with his own mental well-being--he discovers that he is bipolar--and his journey is both a prism for cultural analysis and a deeply personal exploration, equal parts humor and heart.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-06-03
- Reviewer: Staff
Rabin, former head writer for The Onion A.V. Club, takes on two disparate, much-lampooned music fandoms in this memoir, accounting for his years recreationally following the jam band Phish and professionally covering "Juggalos", fans of Detroit horrorcore hip-hop act Insane Clown Posse. He becomes a participant in each culture, his appreciation shifting from ironic to earnest, and realizes profound truths about his health, relationships, and career. These communities contain multitudes of troubled lives and drug casualties, but Rabin also encounters truly thoughtful and fascinating people in each fandom. This is less surprising when speaking about Phish's comparatively sophisticated music; the ICP material is the true revelation. Popular imagery of ICP and juggalos is colored by classism, and readers who hope to have their self-superior biases confirmed will be disappointed; a credit to Rabin's evenhandedness. Whether or not you enjoy either act, the story is a universal one about the ways we connect with the music we adore. By making it personal, and by profiling such a broad spectrum of fans, Rabin puts a human face on what would be caricatures. Agent: Daniel Greenberg, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (June)