I, Fatty. Jerry Stahl
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I, Fatty. Jerry Stahl

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  619 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Abandoned as a boy in Kansas, Fatty Arbuckle found adulation in Hollywood in the early days of cinema. During his heyday he was more popular than Charlie Chaplin and became the first screen actor to make a million dollars a year. But in 1921 Fatty was accused of the rape and murder of an actress he had met in San Francisco.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by Allison & Busby (first published July 23rd 2004)
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Dawn (& Ron)
An acerbic, harsh, funny and moving novel of silent comedic actor Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle. I have not read author Jerry Stahl before and was unfamiliar with his penchant for the degenerative dark side of humanity and the humour he can pull from that. This unique caustic wit allowed Stahl to raise Arbuckle up from the dusty past and let his voice finally be heard. Stahl did extensive research, as the bibliography shows, and places Arbuckle back up among the great comic pioneers where he belongs. Bu...more
Antonia Crane
Stahl does self-hate like nobody else. His somber wit is the perfect mouthpiece for silent film comedian Roscoe “fatty” Arbuckle’s heartbreaking tale. There’ve been many books about Arbuckle’s life, but Stahl’s account is unique because it’s a first person narrative as imagined from Arbuckle’s VOP, which is the most fascinating aspect of his story. Born dirt poor to violently abusive parents, Arbuckle had that self-hate that festers at the heart of abused kids who become adults. Young Arbuckle m...more
Neal
Oct 29, 2008 Neal rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Silent Films, Hollywood Scandal Fans
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle is one of those celebrities who was once a major star, but is largely forgotten today. His rise and fall from celebrity grace is typical of the build-you-up-only-to-tear-you-down phenomenon in the world of gossip. However, unlike the 24/7 media world of today where every star has a chance to tell his/her side of the story, the more limited arena of newspaper reporting in the 20s and 30s never really gave Arbuckle a voice. This novel contrives a way for the silent film com...more
Scott
If you don’t know who Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was, or just know the name here’s the skinny. [From Wikipedia: The book is a fictionalized autobiography of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, the famous silent film comedian, and probes his early life in vaudeville, his rise to fame in the movies, and his crash into infamy following a false murder accusation (and three trials and eventual acquittal).]

This is a novel is remarkable considering the amazing job that Stahl does in climbing inside the mind of Rosc...more
Corey Murray
This is a great book. It's a fictional autobiography of the silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, whose immense popularity came to a screeching halt when he was accused of raping and murdering an actress named Virginia Rappe. Fatty was acquitted, but his career never fully recovered.

Everything about this book is colorful. The setting of 1920s Hollywood combined with Fatty's narrative voice make for a great read. A lot of silent film luminaries - Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mabel Normand...more
tim
I recognize the sensationalism and problems with this book, but if that makes it a guilty pleasure, so be it. I am fascinated by the celebrity of early Hollywood, and Fatty Arbuckle in particular. I can't quite understand his charm, but Stahl re-imagines him successfully enough that I begin to. It's such n interesting story, so filled with grim and wonderful details, and so relevant to America's relationship with celebrity as a rise and fall kind of mythology. In Fatty's case the stakes were so...more
S. Annelise
Silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was framed for the murder and rape of actress Virginia Rappe. Violently abused as a child, Arbuckle ran away and became a vaudeville star before he was targeted as the scapegoat in Rappe's murder. The voice is funny, authentic and heartbreaking. Arbuckle continues to wound his body with food, drugs and alcohol the way we know now that adult children of abuse will do. Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin's loyalty as portrayed here reinforce my view of them a...more
Trish
Obviously, if you read a book by Jerry Stahl about the life of Fatty Arbuckle, it's not going to be good times and great laughs all round, but I suppose I wasn't prepared for just how scathing the narrative would be about the woman whose death brought such disaster to Arbuckle's door.
It's not that the book is unsympathetic to women in general, but I found it surprising that everyone else's drinking, or drug-taking, or other general bad behaviour, is excused (they had a bad life, they lost all th...more
Rebecca
I'm not sure I heard the voice of Roscoe Arbuckle in this fictionalized autobiography so much as the voice of Jerry Stahl, professional heroin addict, wisecracking his way through the role of another professional addict. And that's a shame.
RØB
Jan 26, 2014 RØB rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Silent Film Fans, People Interested In Show Business
Recommended to RØB by: Karen Czmarko
I can't even imagine the amount of research that went into the creation of this novel. It must have been enormous. It really pays off, though--the book is a splendid and hilarious and insightful read. If you are interested in the early days of Hollywood (like, the 1910s, I mean), or vaudeville, or really show business in general--or even if you aren't--I recommend this novel highly.

One of the fascinating things about the novel is that it brings Arbuckle to life in the first-person, a daring move...more
Brian
I found myself thinking about this book again, even though it has been quite a while since I read it, and I have to say that it really is quite a gem. As an "autobiographical" novel, it is very successful in making Fatty Arbuckle a (well-deserved) sympathetic character while also conveying the spirit and ambiance of the earliest days of Hollywood and the movie business.

Though there's no question that Fatty enjoyed a good time, and all that entails, he was completely innocent of the charges brou...more
Marsha
I read this book because I read a very positive review about it by James Franco, the actor in "127 Hours". Since I liked his performance in that movie so much, I thought he must also be an insightful movie critic too! Wrong. This book is interesting in an historical context. As the author explains in the beginning, it is told in the first person by Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle to his manservant in exchange for doses of drugs. It is a fictional biography of this early silent film star from his birth t...more
Marty
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lori
I, Fatty by Jerry Stahl brings some much deserved notice and attention to Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, one of the greatest silent film comics to ever grace the screen.


Stahl has written a fictionalized account of Roscoe's reminiscing over his life, the beginning, the ups and downs and the tremendous fall he took for a crime he didn't commit, and Hollywood turning its back on its once Golden Boy.

Stahl's writing is fresh, funny, tragic and full of appropriate terms and slang for the early 20th centur...more
Oscar
Jerry Stahl creates a mock autobiography written by the Silent Film star, 'Fatty' Arbuckle, whose rising and shining start dimmed after he was accused of raping and accidentally murdering an actress. Despite being deemed not guilty after multiple trials, the former star had trouble being accepted by the public after the scandal.

I enjoyed and was hooked on this book from the start. Part of the appeal lies on this book providing a slice of what it was like during the early days of film and how vau...more
Guy
Als je iets over Stahl te lezen krijgt, dan wordt Hubert Selby, Jr. doorgaans ook vermeld. Die laatste was zo’n beetje Stahls mentor en de stilistische en filosofische overeenkomsten tussen hun oevre lijken dan ook gelijklopend. Het leven is een hel en voor het bestaan aan de zelfkant van de maatschappij geldt dat dubbel. En toch, toch is I, Fatty een van de plezantste boeken die ik dit jaar las; een vlot geschreven, grappig, meeslepend werk dat je alleman wil aanraden (bij deze). I, Fatty is de...more
Christopher
All I know about Jerry Stahl is this: He was some kind of a junkie and he worked in the entertainment industry. I didn't read Permanent Midnight. I watched the movie.

All I know about Fatty Arbuckle is this: He worked in the entertainment industry and his career went down the toilet because of the scandal caused by the death of a starlet at one of his parties.

This book is disguised as an autobiography of Arbuckle, but I don't know enough about the guy to be sure if anything in the book is true or...more
Sarah Sammis
I majored in film studies and while I was doing my studies, the silent era was one of my favorite subjects. When, I, Fatty, a novelization of Roscoe Arbuckle's life was offered at a recent BookCrossing meeting I had to snatch up this book. I wasn't sure if I'd like the book, feeling that the teens and twenties might not be depicted in a believable fashion or that the story would be too bogged down with facts and dates to be interesting. The book doesn't suffer from either problem.

The facts are c...more
Margherita Dolcevita
Dopo aver terminato il romanzo sono andata su Wikipedia a leggermi la biografia, non romanzata stavolta, di Roscoe Arbuckle, perchè, per quanto il libro sia accuratamente documentato (come riporta la bibliografia nelle ultime pagine), volevo capire quanto corrispondesse a verità e perchè volevo colmare le mie lacune, non avendo mai sentito nominare -mea culpa- il suddetto protagonista.
Per quanto ho letto le vicende raccontate sono fedeli alla realtà. E questo rende merito all'autore, perchè non...more
Joey
Somewhat of a subgenre, the Hollywood fiction (which seems oxymoronic).

'I, Fatty' is a fictional telling of the tragedy that surrounded comedian Fatty Arbuckle who was accused of raping (and thus participating) in the death of a young woman. At the time, this was beyond scandalous and the details of the rape were played out in the newspapers of the time, and although he was acquitted of all charges, the trial's cost and the damage done to his reputation destroyed Arbuckle's career.

As an amateur...more
Winter Branch
The story of Fatty Arbuckle is a fascinating one and as I read and talked about the book with people I was very surprised to find out that most people know very little about Fatty Arbuckle, let alone his murder/rape trial, drug use, abusive childhood, and sexual impotence. Stahl's fictionalized account of Fatty's life is told from Arbuckle's perspective and despite the depressing subject matter delivers a light-hearted prose with plenty of levity. Forget OJ as the trial of the 20th century, Fatt...more
K.E. Page
I found it hard to decide whether to give this 2 or 3 stars. In the end, I went for 2 because the things that were good and interesting about this book were to do with Arbuckle's rise and fall and the things that were bad about it were to do with Stahl's inconsistent and at times unconvincing style.
As might be expected, the best part of this book is the three trials it took to find Arbuckle innocent. The first person voice is at its most convincing and the lurid details from the newspapers show...more
Ian
This is some of the most fucked up shit that ever happened.

The crap that Jerry Stahl recounts in this book about a life that didn't happen to him is astonishing. I kept reading it as pure fact when it's just a novel. It's dark and creepy.

There are moments he gets so into Arbuckle's head that it gets plain creepy. Like Arbuckle rambling about sex and him thinking "this is how jelly donuts are made" - it seem so true that you can't just make this shit up - but that stuff IS made up. It's weird. I...more
Allegra
Note: I'm writing this from memory, so I'm hoping it's a fair review.

I love Fatty Arbuckle and am obsessed with the famous scandal surrounding him. Thus, I assumed I would love this book. I didn't. I found it pretty dull and repetitive. The worst part, though, was that it was riddled with bits that essentially said "and that little boy was CHARLIE CHAPLIN." (Seriously, some lines were dangerously close to that one.) It was written through such an obvious lens of "fan of Fatty Arbuckle, living in...more
Tav
Fascinating portrayal of the rise and crumble of Fatty Arbuckle. As far as I understand it; fictionalized in its intimate details but truly comprehensive in terms of the components and touchstones of his career and 3 trials. Loaded with elephantine darkness and depression but balanced with a buoyant undercurrent of heroic resilience. And yet-- I still can't quite stay the course through his guiltless culpability and can't help sensing an audible iniquity in his character murmuring beneath this s...more
Chip Carman
This was a really interesting fictional look at Fatty Arbuckle and what it was like to be a comedic actor in the silent film era in Los Angeles. Lots of dish on some of the great stars of the era. And, a heart wrenching look at his three trials for the supposed rape of a wanna be actress named Virgina Rappe. It is unflinching in its portrayal of Roscoe Arbuckle's demons including his heroin and alcohol battles, checkered love life and ultimate Hollywood blacklisting. It reads like non fiction wh...more
Eva
Sep 23, 2007 Eva rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scandalmongers

Jerry Stahl adds his weird and readable prose to the story of Fatty Arbuckle. The book is fun, whether or not you know the fat man's story. It's full of creepy-ass child abuse, fun vaudeville tidbits, characters like Max Sennett and Mabel Normand drawn out in excruciating detail, and all sorts of wicked awesome Hollywood Babylon scandal deliciousness. Judging by the ample bibliography, Stahl did his research. It's fun and sad! I like the part where he goes to the Orient to be in "The Mikado." Wh...more
Ann
When I young, my dad used to talk about a silent film star/comedian, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, who was wrongly accused of raping and killing a young starlet. This is the time when actors were paid unbelievable amounts of money with no taxes. Huge parties included sex, drugs and alcohol. The book takes us back to how Fatty got his start (very sad background) through the trial. I like bios with a little spice. I have the book if anyone wants to borrow. :D
David
Interesting biography of the actor Fatty Arbuckle, with clear resonance to the celebrity culture of today. Clearly well-researched, it's filled with fascinating period details, and anyone with an interest in early Hollywood should give it a read.

My only quibbles are that, like many biographies, it is sometimes narratively uninteresting (this happened, then this happened, then this happened), and the voice doesn't always work for me...
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Jerry Stahl (born September 28, 1953) is an American novelist and screenwriter, He is best known for the darkly comedic tale of addiction, Permanent Midnight, which was revered by critics and an ever-growing cult of devoted readers, as one of the most compelling, contemporary memoirs. A film adaptation soon followed with Ben Stiller in the lead role, which is widely considered to be Mr. Stiller’s...more
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