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)
I'll say this about her: Raina Telgemeier knows how to make good comics. I liked this comic when I stumbled across it online a couple of years ago, an...moreI'll say this about her: Raina Telgemeier knows how to make good comics. I liked this comic when I stumbled across it online a couple of years ago, and when she stopped updating it in order to put it together as a Scholastic book I knew I had to pick it up. Raina's story is one about a teenage girl going through what all girls go through in junior high: problems with boys, friends, school, and fitting in, but with the added "bonus" of complicated dental surgery. It sometimes dances on the edge of melodrama, but her lighthearted spirit, positive outlook, and skillfully curved lines keep it from getting maudlin. This would be a really excellent book for young girls, but I think anyone who likes comics would at least appreciate the storytelling in it.(less)