When many standup comedians write books, they basically distill their standup into book form. Even some of my favourite comedians are guilty of this:...moreWhen many standup comedians write books, they basically distill their standup into book form. Even some of my favourite comedians are guilty of this: I mean, I love George Carlin, but his books are basically his standup on paper. However, some comedians actually approach a book as its own, distinct kind of writing. And with Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Patton Oswalt firmly plants himself in the latter camp.
This book is mostly a memoir, Oswalt's recollections of moments from his past that were important to him becoming the man he is today. It's not simply a telling of his life story, however. The essays are out of chronological order, and range from an excited elementary-school aged Patton playing on a snow day to his experiences in a so-called "gifting suite" after making a name for himself, and about a dozen more in between. And there's humour in these stories, but also pathos, and heartbreak, and wonder. It's snippets of a fascinating life, written by a man with a skillful grasp of the English language. He can make you scream laughing one moment and then catch your breath with shock another. Even in the same story. His observations on pop culture, life, and . Each longer story is often followed by a shorter essay, observation, or explanation; more straightforward comedy bits that break things up without derailing the book.
Yes, it's a short book. And that's unfortunate: when a book is this well-written then I generally want more. But it's hard to fault a man for writing something so good that it's not long enough. And no, it's not a bio where you learn everything about his childhood, then his discovery of the greater world in his teenage years, and then his slow but inevitable rise to greatness. It's not trying to be that kind of memoir. It's more observational, more encapsulated, and more clever than that. However, it is well worth what I paid for it, and I will re-read (and re-listen) to it for years to come. And that's a real test of its value.
If I was reviewing the prose version, I think this would have just barely gotten four stars. But Oswalt reading it himself, putting in all the emotion and utilizing his amazing timing, as well as some of the other audio treats, made it an easy four, leaning towards four and a half if they had one.(less)
Warren Beatty has lived an interesting life, and has crammed more experiences into his seventy years than most people could do in seven hundred. But I...moreWarren Beatty has lived an interesting life, and has crammed more experiences into his seventy years than most people could do in seven hundred. But I don't know if I like him. Then again, that's not really the point: this is a warts-and-all biography that not only got me to learn more about the person behind the celebrity, but also got me interested in watching and re-watching his movies. It's a long book, but generally worth the time and investment. I have a few minor points I could nitpick about: I don't think an author should be as familiar and crude as his subject when talking about sex, for one thing, and I don't know if I needed quite as much time spent on Heaven Can Wait when I'm sure Reds could have used some more coverage. But those are minor points. Overall, if you like movies or are interested in the cult of the Hollywood celebrity, then I would definitely recommend this Star. It's not an earth-shattering book, but it's definitely an interesting story.(less)