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I, Fatty

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  1,024 ratings  ·  128 reviews
In this highly acclaimed novel, the author of Permanent Midnight channels fallen early-Hollywood star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. Fatty tells his own story of success, addiction, and a precipitous fall from grace after being framed for a brutal crime-a national media scandal that set the precedent for those so familiar today.
Paperback, 280 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published July 23rd 2004)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  1,024 ratings  ·  128 reviews

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Tracy Sherman
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Through a syringe darkly.
There's so little written on Roscoe Arbuckle that I'm grateful for anything, and I find that "fictionalized autobiographies" can sometimes reveal much more than the real thing.
The first part of the book dealing with Roscoe Arbuckle's childhood rings very true, a shy, self-conscious, overweight boy who's mother is preoccupied with her own illness, she died when Roscoe was 12 years old. And a father preoccupied with getting drunk and verbally abusing and beating his son.
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. ...more
Antonia Crane
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Sep 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-autobio
Entertaning fictionalized biography of Arbuckle, supposedly told in his own words (wink). It kept my interest all the way through.
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I put off reading this for a long time because it was my last unread Jerry Stahl book. I love the man’s work.
This fictional autobiography of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, classic comic silent movie star, was both wonderful and difficult to read. Wonderful because author Stahl does such an incredible job of getting into the head of Arbuckle with wit and humor, and difficult because despite being a well-paid movie star, Arbuckle's life was tragic, even before the murder charges and trials.

I am not really a fan of silent movies, but I can recognize the names and faces of the stars during this time period -
Oct 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Corey Murray
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Gav Thorpe
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was recommended to me, and I'm glad it was. I was a little dubious at the start, but perhaps that was more to do with the uncomfortable subject than anything else.

When Stahl gets into his stride the prose flows brilliantly, flavoured with period phrasing and sly humour. The story of Arbuckle's rise to fame, and the portrayal of what it might have been like to live that dream, is fascinating.

Of course, the train wreck that comes later is equally compelling and the cringeworthy
May 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Samyuktha jayaprakash
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book. First fictionalised autobiography I've read. Heartbreaking , sad and funny. I didn't know who fatty was before this but now I've fallen in love with him. Scandals and media killed a career for the first time but not the last. This book has taught me to never judge without knowing all the facts. Loved the way the author has written this book! <3
I thank him for writing this ingenious masterpiece.
Joseph Naus
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
it's strange to classify this the way i did, but read it, and you'll understand.

this is definitely my fav jerry stahl book. if you live in los angeles (especially on the east side) or are interested in the history of cinema, you'll like it for that in addition to the interesting story of the rail-roading of this black and white movie star.

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.
Mike Smith
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book opens with a Samuel Beckett quote,"There is nothing funnier than unhappiness". This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the story. Finally , it seems, Fatty gets to tell his side and does so with a lot of humor. Fictional or not, it's a great read.
Patrick O'Neil
May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully sad. An amazing bit of writing....
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Picked this book out because of my love for all things having to do with silent film, including the inevitable and tragic scandals that peppered the unfettered early cinema era, such as the Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle murder trial. What I got was an exceptionally amazing literary experience from an author I didn't know existed. Found out Stahl is a former addict which may explain his ability to write the sort of dancing and vibrating sentences that string a reader out and leave him/her gasping for ...more
Katie Bliss
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Interesting fictionalized narrative by Roscoe Arbuckle himself (not really - but it was narrated in his tone and told his story "as he saw it"). I'd heard the name Fatty Arbuckle before but didn't know much about him, but I received this book as a gift for my birthday so I thought I'd give it a try. I really liked hearing about the progression of slapstick/vaudeville theatre, then cinema, and all the actors Arbuckle rubbed shoulders with and even mentored (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, etc.). ...more
I polished this book off in two days. It is an entertaining book. Based on the provenance acknowledged by the author, it is really not possible to determine whether the personality is Arbuckle, the original interviewer or this author. Regardless, it is an entertaining read that generally agrees with the chronology of events presented elsewhere and adds a great deal of background. Obviously some recollections are not accurate in terms to times, dates or order, but may represent actual events. ...more
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a fantastic bio, told in a really interesting way. Unreliable witness testimony and corrupted newspaper stories are pretty much all we've got to go on in understanding the scandal of Fatty Arbuckle, so to use Arbuckle's own voice to tell the story is a stroke of genius. He's the ultimate unreliable narrator, so we know immediately that whatever this book presents as fact is suspect. Stahl really captures the voice of this complicated man perfectly. A really important read in our current ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, biographies
A fictionalized biography of Fatty Arbuckle. Jerry Stahl brilliantly captures not only, Hollywood in the silent era, but also, the infamous Hollywood scandal that ruined Roscoe’s career. From Arbuckle’s awful childhood to his career implosion, the author does an fantastic job capturing the voice of Arbuckle. The book hooks you from the introduction: “I was once picked up by the police on Fatty Arbuckle’s front lawn. Of course, by then Fatty—who preferred to be called Roscoe—had moved on.”
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was hard to read -- great book, but the story is so tragic and so unjust, and I knew that going in -- so the farther I read, the more I felt like I needed to read it through squinted eyes so I wouldn't see too much.
Ms. Colbert
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Enlightening, but pretty sure that a lot of the "facts" are stretched and pulled in all different directions. Nevertheless, I love Jerry Stahl's style of writing and he makes a pudding recipe seem interesting.
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Funny, sad tragic story of Roscoe (Fatty) Arbucle. (B 3/24/1887, D 6/29/33) He mentored Charlie Chaplin, discovered Buster Newton & Bob Hope. Great book about vaudeville and the beginnings of film studios like MGM. Amazing read with great pathos and humor. Loved it.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
one of the greatest comedians of all time. and yet he was crucified by the press of the time. wow what a great read
Mar 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I have some qualms about historical accuracy, but overall wasn’t bad.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great writing. Engaging story. I'd like to sort out the fact and fiction of it, but I guess that's what "historical fiction" should make you want to do.
Robert Poor
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Good evening, ladles and geraniums.

"I, Fatty," a wonderful fictionalized autobiography of vaudeville and silent movie star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle written by Jerry Stahl covers in depth two fascinating subjects, both told in the glib, amusing voice of Fatty himself.

The first subject that Fatty covers charmingly is his early days in Hollywood, in which silent movie stars adlibbed scripts, characters, pratfalls, chase scenes, love scenes, sight gags, and essentially created on the fly a new
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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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