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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Comedian Oswalt (The King of Queens, Caprica) offers up a collection of colorful essays ranging in topic from his experiences working at a movie theater to sends-ups of eccentric relatives, including a grandmother who gives exceedingly odd birthday gifts. To delve into the book is to take a tour of Oswalt’s delightfully offbeat mind: he shares with readers what he was doing to procrastinate while writing certain chapters, suggests some truly morbid greeting cards, and parodies the vampire craze in comic-book form. The title is a reference to Oswalt’s theory that creative teens gravitate toward three subjects for their early stories: zombies, spaceships, or wastelands. Oswalt found himself drawn toward wastelands, a natural choice for a comedian who likes to poke fun at society. Oswalt is a wonderfully descriptive writer, vividly evoking his zombielike coworker at the theater, a grim Canadian comedy club, and the wanderings of his teen imagination with sharp, sardonic prose. --Kristine Huntley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Patton Oswalt...is one of those rare performers whose material translates into any medium without losing its sharpness--including, for the first time, print. . . . It is well worth it to join him on his odyssey."--Washington Post

“Sharp storytelling and sardonic wit.... Oswalt populates these stories with expertly drawn characters, and infuses them with a limitless supply of cultural references and deft turns of phrase.” —Boston Globe

“A thoughtful, hilarious, quasi-memoir that puts the standard-issue comedy-routine-in-book-form to shame.” —SPIN

“Patton Oswalt is one of those rare performers whose material translates into any medium without losing its sharpness—including, for the first time, print.... It is well worth it to join him on his odyssey.” —Washington Post

"A very funny book by the Funniest Man Alive." --GQ
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439149097
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439149096
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hey, my publisher asked me to do this Amazon Author Page. So here it is. My name is Patton Oswalt. I do stand-up comedy and sometimes I act in television show and movies. And, since 2009, I've been a published author. I've published two books and, over the years, I'm going to write more. So join this page and watch me age and eventually die. Oh, and buy my books. The money goes to me. After I'm dead, my wife and daughter. We live in an age of wonder.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth N. Bikoff on January 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Patton's work, whether it be his standup or Reno 911! or his movies, but this book disappointed me. The stories of his life were interesting, but the presentation of a few other elements of the book -- the graphic part of it and the cards -- seemed odd and out of place. I know they pertained to his life, as well, but they didn't seem to fit other parts of the book. Is it worth a read? Sure, just for the life stories that are part of the equation. But not every piece seems to fit. Also, the graphic part of it was tough to read on a Kindle, although that's not Patton's fault, and the star rating doesn't have anything to do with that.
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45 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Ernest P. Bigglebottem on January 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patton Oswalt is a brilliant comedian. His intelligence has always shown through in his stand-up; not only will he insert references that shows he's well-read and well-versed in history, but they each have a narrative that flows well from the beginning of a bit to the end. His essays are much the same, and it's clear that the man can write.

Unfortunately, the material itself isn't quite up to snuff. One of the things that I've always loved about his stand-up is how he never seems to care what people think about him. He has a frenetic in-your-face delivery style that was married to such confident stage presence. If he sticks to stand-up, we'll be talking about him in the same breath as Bill Hicks and George Carlin down the road. His book, however, has this painfully self-conscious feeling to it. His writing style isn't nearly as crisp as his stand-up delivery. Granted, it's a function of the medium, but that doesn't explain all of it away. Much of this is auto-biographical which lends an almost tedious air to some of the stories, like you're hearing them from your boring, half-drunk uncle at a holiday party.

The best way to sum up this book is this: remember his bit about how he had to take a science class in college called "physics for poets" and he ceaselessly mocked the "head-in-the-clouds" mentality of the English majors? It sounds like one of those people wrote this instead of the short, angry man who yelled at the professor about an incorrect Star Trek reference on the test. I wasn't asking for 200 pages of his caustic wit (okay, I was), but I can't fathom how none of what makes him a brilliant stand-up comedian made it into this book.

But at least it wasn't about wedding deejays...
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Powlus on January 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As said before, if you enjoy Patton's flavor of comedy, you'll almost certainly enjoy both the tone and content of this book.
It is not a book of jokes...but it is very funny. Patton is a very talented writer and does an excellent job of painting a picture of what was going on around him during some important and formative years of his life.
It is not a very long book. I was a bit disappointed at the short little line of dots on my Kindle. Given the quality of the content, however, I'm not disappointed in the book as a whole.
Speaking of the Kindle, the Kindle formatting of this book is...not great. I wish somebody would put a bit more effort into making sure there aren't any misplaced hard line breaks and such.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Steinberg on July 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I really like Patton oswalt but this book was not that great. I thought it was going to be a funny memoir and half of it was. The problem was that the other half was brutally terrible.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ed C. on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
You know the feeling you get when someone says a non sequitur, and you're trying to figure out if it's a joke? I had that feeling while reading (ok, skimming) this whole book. I admit the titular "Zombie Spaceship Wasteland" chapter was a clever analysis of geek teenage life. But the rest of it just felt like a big waste of time. Maybe his material just doesn't translate well to the printed page, or maybe I just needed a few more drinks.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Head Cheeze on April 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I'd heard Patton Oswalt was coming out with a book, I was truly excited. I'm a big fan of the guy's stand-up, and just assumed he'd bring the same sort of geek-centric humor to the page. Sadly this hodgepodge of depressing reminiscences, elitist posturing (most glaringly represented by his countless references to bands like Fugazi - the music geek's Citizen Kane in that all proclaim their greatness yet so very few have actually even listened to a single song by the band), and ill-conceived philosophical rantings. What I expected to be a fun read proved to be one of the few books I've read this year that I couldn't even be bothered to finish.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Edgar Mihelic on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In the last few years, a number of comics I respect and whose humor I laugh at have put out books: Steve Martin, Sarah Silverman, Russell Brand, and recently Tina Fey. These four comics wrote a book that was something like the title of an Al Franken book: The truth with jokes. They basically recounted growing up in a way that was funny but had to be funny because of who they became (or maybe not funny, per se, but something that messed them up but still made them smart and curious with a twisted view of the world). These are all good books that are enjoyable.

Oswalt, who is a very funny man on stage and interviews, writes a book that is not like that. This book is not like that. We get some of the autobiography in stories about the movie theatre he worked at and his experience in his first headlining gig in Canada. These are more like riffs or essays (and one comic strip about vampires) that loosely adhere to the titular theme. I did smile and laugh while I was reading them, but the book as a whole feels somewhat slapped-together. It was like he just pulled various things that were sitting on his hard drive and threw some introductory material in front of the different word files. There's just no coherency, which isn't a bad thing if you need a bathroom reader, but it is glaring on a straight read-through. The funny thing ("funny" odd) is that in spite of that criticism, the worst thing about the book is that it is too short - it isn't half bad, but it could have been half better.
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Zombie Spaceship Wasteland: A Book by Patton Oswalt
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