Review: You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me

You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me is kind of hard to get a handle on.  It’s not quite the sort of travelogue that it seems like it might me from the title/blurb. Nathan Rabin does take us on a tour of both Phish sub-culture and Insane Clown Posse sub-culture with interviews and first person accounts, but somehow neither the bands nor the fans take center stage for long.  It’s not completely a memoir, because the whole narrative is viewed from the viewpoints that these sub-cultures come to represent.  It’s a strange book to put a label on.

It’s also a difficult book to put down.  Rabin underwent a reluctant transformation during the time he put this thing together, and those personal experiences are the core of the book. This is the kind of transformation that ends with “and what the hell’s coming next?” not “and we all had a good laugh looking back.”  Rabin does an excellent job telling his story honestly, neither trivializing the small personal moments nor generalizing for false universality.  While I think many people will be able to relate to his journey, it is very much his journey.

Rabin’s writing supports this unusual narrative.  When he is introspective and analytical about what he has experienced, his thoughts are clear on the page.  When he’s spinning a yarn that happened to him on a Greyhound somewhere his descriptions are vivid and memorable.  Both of these make the story work.

Overall, an unlikely melange of memoir and reporting that is intelligent, diverting, and honest.


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