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Zombie Spaceship Wasteland: A Book by Patton Oswalt Hardcover – January 4, 2011
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Prepare yourself for a journey through the world of Patton Oswalt, one of the most creative, insightful, and hysterical voices on the entertainÂment scene today. Widely known for his roles in the films Big Fan and Ratatouille, as well as the television hit The King of Queens, Patton Oswaltâa staple of Comedy Centralâhas been amusing audiences for decades. Now, with Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, he offers a fascinating look into his most unusual, and lovable, mindscape.
Oswalt combines memoir with uproarious humor, from snow forts to Dungeons & Dragons to gifts from Grandma that had to be explained. He rememÂbers his teen summers spent working in a movie Cineplex and his early years doing stand-up. Readers are also treated to several graphic elements, includÂing a vampire tale for the rest of us and some greeting cards with a special touch. Then thereâs the bookâs centerpiece, which posits that before all young creative minds have anything to write about, they will home in on one of three story lines: zomÂbies, spaceships, or wastelands.
Oswalt chose wastelands, and ever since he has been mining our societyâs wasteland for perversion and excess, pop culture and fatty foods, indie rock and single-malt scotch. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is an inventive account of the evolution of Patton Oswaltâs wildly insightful worldview, sure to indulge his legion of fans and lure many new admirers to his very entertaining âwasteland.â
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The book isn't a coherent story like comedian Mike Birbiglia's book, it's more a collection of random pieces -- everything from mock greeting cards (actually, hilarious) to stories about L.A. to concepts like "Zombie, Spaceship, Wasteland". I don't always object to such disjointed material -- it's part of what makes Patton's stand-up so entertaining -- but in book form it doesn't work as well.
The book felt thrown together. As if Patton's agent felt it was time the comedian branched out into a new medium and Patton simply collected random musings from his journal. The material sometimes reminds you of his irreverent stand-up, but it's really uneven. Sometimes the pieces just fall flat.
I would have liked more stories from the road (he does touch on this but not enough IMO), especially because Patton really struggled on his way to success. I'm sure he has so much more to say about that arduous journey.
For Patton's hard-core fans, check the book out just to get another glimpse into his arcane madness. But for casual fans, I'd recommend going to YouTube and watching excerpts from his stand-up. That's where he really shines.
I like the personal anecdotes when I read books from my favorite entertainers. "The Bedwetter" by Sarah Silverman delivers on that in spades, almost to the point of "overshare." (Sarah fans will get that joke.) "Zombie Spaceship Wasteland," on the other hand, is screaming for more of that. My favorite parts of the book were the chapters about his nightmare show on the outskirts of Vancouver B.C. in 1993, his job at a movie theater as a teen, and the one about his uncle. They gave you glimpses into his life and upbringing. That's what I like.
One of the most endearing parts of the book, when he describes seeing "Nosferatu" at the library as a small child, he wrote as a footnote. I would've appreciated a full page or two on that.
I hope one day he writes a more in-depth autobiography of some sort, or a fictional novel. I had a hard time getting through a lot of the random stuff in this book, such as the comic book pages, the greeting card illustrations and descriptions, etc. Most of that was just not interesting to me, although I can't help but appreciate Patton's passion for the things he loves. I DID enjoy the chapter on Hobo songs. (haha)
Overall, if your literary cup of tea is personal, ordered, and less on the abstract side, I don't know if this book will be for you. I really struggled between giving three stars or four stars. Most accurately, I would say 3 1/2. But I had to be honest, it's not quite a 4. It was a challenge to get through some parts of it, and the "random" chapters break the flow of the good storytelling in the better chapters. My rating is based on the material itself. The writing is great, and his witty humor shines through.