Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film” as Want to Read:
Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  5,486 Ratings  ·  705 Reviews
Between 1995 and 1999, Patton Oswalt lived with an unshakable addiction. It wasn’t drugs, alcohol, or sex: it was film. After moving to Los Angeles, Oswalt became a huge film buff (or as he calls it, a sprocket fiend), absorbing classics, cult hits, and new releases at the famous New Beverly Cinema. Silver screen celluloid became Patton’s life schoolbook, informing his not ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Scribner
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Silver Screen Fiend, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
(I received a free advance copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt wrote this unflinching account of his battle with addiction during the late ‘90s, but he didn’t spend his days cooking meth with bikers or whoring himself out for crack. Poor Patton was a movie junkie who found plenty of dealers to get him high in the theaters of Los Angeles.

A double feature of Billy Wilder films at the New Beverly Cinema was the gateway drug that led Patton d
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Patton Oswalt was born in January of 1969. Later that summer, on July 20, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two humans to walk around on the surface of the moon – in what some pundits have declared was the high water mark for western civilization. Beginning the downward slide, I showed up in September of that year.

All that to say that Oswalt and I are the same age and we were both raised in the suburbs and attended high school in the 1980s (both graduating in 1987). We both liked c
Jason Koivu
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
A bipolar memoir on two of my favorite subjects, comedy and film.

Comedian Patton Oswalt loves film. There was a period in his life when he was on the fence as to which career path to take. Would he become a comedian or perhaps a director? Silver Screen Fiend takes us down his memory lane of movie binge watching and stand-up routine crafting in a sometimes odd and erratic autobio read.

This book probably only deserves three stars, but I'm going with four, because of my love for the topics, but als
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a fun, manic memoir about Patton Oswalt's obsession with movies in the 1990s. I wanted to read this because I like Patton's comedy and I thought it would be a humorous audiobook. Which it was.

The films that got Patton started on his movie addiction were Sunset Boulevard and Ace in the Hole, both by Billy Wilder. After seeing those, Patton started regularly attending the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, which showed classic films. Patton had decided he wanted to be a director, but inst
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
"Van Gogh entered a room in his mind when he painted The Night Cafe. He acknowledged his damaged (and worsening) psyche and, in acknowledging it, made a deal. He would be able to take newer, more original artistic conceptions out, would be able to capture them in paintings. His psyche found the deal acceptable. It let Vincent leave the room - the Night Cafe - with vistas and visions he hadn't come close to in his career. But something followed him out, and latched on to him like a virus, and he ...more
I strongly recommend listening to this book in its audio format if possible. Oswalt narrates, of course. If you're familiar with any of his work, you'll use his voice, anyway, to narrate this as you read it but he does a better job. Trust me.

True story: I've got a crush on Patton Oswalt. I have for years. Yeeeeeaaaars. I don't even find all his comedy funny. There's just something about him. Maybe it's that he's kind of a pretentious shit sometimes but he knows he's a shit and he both plays that
Jul 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

Prerequisites for enjoying Patton Oswalt's Silver Screen Fiend: either be a big Oswalt fan (I'm not; I've never seen a single episode of "The King of Queens", never seen his standup comedy routine, wasn't even aware until reading this book he had a small part in one of my fave movies, PT Anderson's "Magnolia") or be, like Oswalt, an addicted cinephile. Bonus enjoyment points if you're from Los Angeles and are familiar with the "rep" and indie theaters Oswalt frequents, like the Nuart,
Lots of filler. Around 30% of this book is a list of the movies he watched over a period of time in the 1990s. That's it. Just a list. If you care that Patton Oswalt watched The English Patient in 1997 at the Vista Theater then you should definitely read this. If you don't care that he watched Swingers in Encino in '95, then you're all set and can move along.

I fell into the second category. I just didn't care. There are touches here and there about his career and friends but for the most part i
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio, film, non-fiction
I'm a cinephile and I've been known to enjoy this guys standup routines and his more serious acting too, it seemed like a no brainer the moment I saw it on the shelf in my favourite bookshop. And you know what? It's fun, it's interesting, it's on a subject that I can connect with in a very real way and it's a story told in such a way that I can hear his standup voice coming through with each pause and punctuated anecdote. It's exactly what I thought it would be and more - the creative process an ...more
Larry H
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I'd rate this 3.5 stars.

I've been a big fan of Patton Oswalt for some time now. I think he's a pretty good actor (he particularly gave a terrific performance in Charlize Theron's Young Adult a few years back), and I love his comedic observations as well. One friend of mine says that Oswalt and I share a similar sense of humor, although clearly only one of us is making a living off of it.

One thing I didn't know I shared with Oswalt was an obsession with the movies. Those of you who know me well
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Not sure what Patton was after with this; it struggles as both memoir and film history/analysis. His writing is compulsively readable but the book winds up being way too brief (with filler galore! Many of the pages are simply lists) yet seems to retread the same points over and over.

On a related note, I hope the culture and/or comedians develop some self-awareness about how, in 2015, it has become increasingly dull for non-comedians to wax on about every last detail about "the biz."
Sarah Pascarella
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oswalt is my favorite type of fellow English major -- constantly searching for the connections between experiences, events, and people, but without being twee, self-serving, or overly theoretical. Instead, he roots out these connections (often across time, space, and medium) and makes thoughtful insights as to those beneath-the-surface ties that bind us. The fact that he does so humbly and hilariously makes his company even more enjoyable. Chapter 8 made me laugh so hard that I woke my husband u ...more
Jennifer (Jen/The Tolkien Gal)
If you’ve ever been addicted to some form of media like books or movies (and heaven knows we’re on Goodreads, so…) you need to read this book.

I love “behind the scenes” books about film or writing processes. This book is beautiful scene in the life of a comedian, struggling actor and movie-OBSESSED man. Patton Oswalt watched almost a movie (or a double feature) every night for a year and ticked it off in five books of his concerning cult classics. I LOVE this book. I love the writing and I love
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
I figured this book would be jam-packed with geeky jokes, but it is more of a self-deprecating memoir of a time in Patton Oswalt's life when he was addicted to movies and thought he was going to be an amazing film maker. He does talk some film nerdery in this book, but the majority is him discussing the mistakes he made in his early years. I think it's great that he is so comfortable talking about his past mistakes and failures, and he does it in such a way that it's entertaining to read about. ...more
Nathan Rabin
Dec 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Touching, compulsively readable. Devour it in one sleepless night and be hungry for more.
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

*3.5 stars*

Enthusiastically and eloquently narrated and written with a surprising amount of poetry, Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film was an interesting listen for me. I like Patton Oswalt, and I was willing to pay for the audio to hear him in a more intimate setting, but, truly, this book is for movie geeks only. If you are like me, a total movie non-snob and commercialized cinema embracer, most of the references will fly right over your head.
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I ordered Patton Oswalt's latest memoir from Amazon several weeks ago. It arrived on Tuesday January 6, 2015. I began reading it that very day. By the time I retired for the evening I had devoured half the book in several sittings. The next day I finished reading the rest. A fantastic read as compulsive and addictive as the all-consuming passion for cinema that ruled Oswalt's life for years and nearly derailed his every ambition, Silver Screen Fiend documents the famed actor, writer, and stand-u ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bio, show-biz, audible
A tedious and rambling affair, somewhat redeemed by the fact that the audio book was narrated by the author himself. Patton's self-diagnosed film addiction seems like a false premise designed to support several auto-biographical stories about his start in the comedy scene during the 90s. The name-dropping is fun at times, and the film-related tidbits are mildly interesting, but the whole narrative floats around the central premise without really ever attacking it, leaving the reader overall un-s ...more
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, audible
I've been a big Patton Oswald fan for years and I had no idea he was so passionate about movies. I listened to this on Audible because I wanted to hear him do his own book. It was funny and interesting. What a movie geek!!! I was actually astounded and envious that he was able to see so many old and foreign movies on the big screen in L.A. Maybe because it's the movie capital of the world? I live in the suburbs of Chicago but there's no way I'd find anywhere near the amount of movies from the pa ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oswalt's addiction memoir is not really about addiction, but more about finding your vocation, told in a series of little epiphany moments which are the stock structures in lots of the fiction & memoir I tend to consume. Knowledge of film isn't really required, though it is often presumed in the discussion of escapism and engagement with the world that is the real theme of the story. Oswalt's storytelling here is really engaging and the tangents are as delightful as the main thrust of the st ...more
Brandon Forsyth
Oct 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Patton Oswalt speaks to me. This book made me laugh and weep and smile at all the wry wisdom on display. It's very much a memoir, and it hit me on a very personal level. You can argue that the book takes a while to find itself, and that the writing in the first chapter is trying just a little too hard, but, for me, this book is perfect.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm glad I finally read this.
Samantha Glasser
I have been aware of Patton Oswalt for years. I knew he was funny but I didn't know much else or care enough to find out. Then I saw he wrote this book and I thought, "Huh, this guy likes movies too. I should check that out. Should be an easy read." Never did I expect to feel such a kinship with this man. It's funny the way a shared hobby, a shared love, a shared obsession can do that.

There is so much to relate to: those passionate conversations with friends who haven't seen a movie which you c
Steph Myers
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it
I listened to this because I wish Patton Oswalt was my next door neighbor. We could hang out, drink beer and geek out on various irreverent current and not-so-current events. I'm glad I listened to it. He definitely goes from truly "reading" to more "telling" as the book progresses, which is nice. I tend to get bored with "readers".

I too was a film geek when I was a kid, but I never had the money nor lived near a theatre as cool as the New Bev. OK, the Ken in San Diego came close and the Chapel
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, film
A funny and often moving memoir of one comedian's addiction to film. Oswalt was seeing two or three movies every week in the late 90s and his stories of that experience encompass the wonder that film engenders, how the magic lantern inspires our dreams. Added to these stories is an accompanying narrative of the stand up comedy scene in late 90s LA. What's especially moving about the memoir is that, despite its relative immediacy in time, it's also a world that has nearly vanished. Rock on, sproc ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
A joyless, mirthless experience. Page after page of nothing, just Oswalt turning a story that should be a paragraph at best into a whole chapter. And his final revelation about cinema "addiction" is as underwhelming as they come. And for you cinephiles out there thinking, "Well at least he's going to write about some good films" don't bother. He just lists them and maybe occasionally gives a plot synopsis.
If you want to see a real great piece of art about cinema addiction, check out the doc Cine
Caitlin Elgin
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I dug this book a lot - it's a great depiction of the stubborn "I know what I'm doing" frame of mind that we get into when we're young. It's also a great lesson about how sometimes we don't end up exactly where we want to be, and that's OK. The journey matters. Even if the journey is totally wacky.
Matthew Dinda
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Less about Oswalt's film addiction and more about his relationship to the art and entertainment industries he's become so intertwined with, set against his burgeoning cinephilia. Insightful, sweet, hilarious, and mature, it's a beautiful look at how art (and trash) can provide inspiration and motivation for your own work.
Amber B
"Every book its reader," has never, ever been truer than in the case of me and this book.
Rod Hilton
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it
UPDATE: Given what has happened with Patton's wife since I wrote this review, it all seems a bit petty now. I'm only leaving it here because there are a few comments, and if I delete it they won't make sense. TL;DR of the review: I wound up reading this book for a weird reason, and it was alright.


Why did I read Patton Oswalt's "Silver Screen Fiend"? To answer that, I have to first tell a bit of a story.

A few years back I wrote a blog post introducing a new order for watching the Star Wars fi
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgarians
  • Mr. Show-What Happened?: The Complete Story & Episode Guide
  • You'll Be Perfect When You're Dead: Collected Online Writings of Dan Harmon
  • Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!
  • My Year of Flops: The A.V. Club Presents One Man's Journey Deep into the Heart of Cinematic Failure
  • I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy's Golden Era
  • Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World's Most Notorious Horror Movie
  • Hollywood Said No!: Orphaned Film Scripts, Bastard Scenes, and Abandoned Darlings from the Creators of Mr. Show
  • Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him
  • Jim Henson: The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination
  • Rebels on the Backlot: Six Maverick Directors and How They Conquered the Hollywood Studio System
  • The Devil's Candy: The Anatomy Of A Hollywood Fiasco
  • Film After Film: (Or, What Became of 21st Century Cinema?)
  • The Films in My Life
  • Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America
  • Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers
  • Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years  (Palin Diaries, #1)
  • Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert
Patton Oswalt is an American stand-up comedian, writer and actor.
More about Patton Oswalt

Nonfiction Deals

  • A Guide to the Present Moment
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Hunting Eichmann: How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World's Most Notorious Nazi
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Breaks of the Game
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
    $12.74 $2.99
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
    $8.24 $1.99
  • Dry
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Animal Liberation: The Definitive Classic of the Animal Movement
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Measure of a Man
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions
    $13.99 $2.99
  • 100 Days of Real Food: How We Did It, What We Learned, and 100 Easy, Wholesome Recipes Your Family Will Love
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Best Friends: The True Story of the World's Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis
    $9.24 $1.99
  • Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
    $8.49 $1.99
  • The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
    $17.48 $1.99
  • The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Noticer Returns: Sometimes You Find Perspective, and Sometimes Perspective Finds You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Scar Tissue
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Running with Scissors
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics
    $9.99 $2.99
  • 1968: The Year That Rocked the World
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Notes on a Banana: A Memoir of Food, Love and Manic Depression
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
    $9.99 $2.99
  • And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini
    $22.95 $1.99
  • Facing Your Giants: The God Who Made a Miracle Out of David Stands Ready to Make One Out of You
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of It
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Egg and I
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More
    $12.74 $1.99
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Just Another Kid
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Second World War
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
    $11.24 $1.99
  • Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism
    $13.99 $1.99
  • I Am Not Myself These Days (P.S.)
    $13.24 $1.99
  • In the Beginning...Was the Command Line
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Starvation Heights: A True Story of Murder and Malice in the Woods of the Pacific Northwest
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Toltec Art of Life and Death
    $11.49 $1.99
  • Put Your Dream to the Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It
    $9.49 $2.99
  • The Diva Rules: Ditch the Drama, Find Your Strength, and Sparkle Your Way to the Top
    $17.99 $2.99
  • A Brief History of Time
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially Ourselves
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All My Road Before Me: The Diary of C. S. Lewis, 1922-1927
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Penguin Lessons
    $12.99 $1.99
  • What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School: Notes from a Street-smart Executive
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court
    $11.99 $4.99
  • The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
    $10.99 $2.99
  • Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011
    $12.99 $2.99
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About God
    $11.49 $2.99
  • Running with the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Johnny Cash: The Life
    $12.99 $3.99
  • No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend
    $12.99 $1.99
“Movies, to him and the majority of the planet, are an enhancement to a life. The way a glass of wine complements a dinner. I’m the other way around. I’m the kind of person who eats a few bites of food so that my stomach can handle the full bottle of wine I’m about to drink.” 7 likes
“I've been very lucky in my life in terms of people who are able to tolerate me.” 5 likes
More quotes…