Nov. 3rd, 2016

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Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt is weird, smart, and funny, and so is this book. It fits oddly in Biography, where my library classifies it, but my favorite pieces are the more memoirish ones. Patton Oswalt is really good at putting into words the way he perceived the world as a child.

There is a lot of gross-out humor, which I suppose is useful to a standup comedian: you want to have some kind of effect on your audience, and this is a reliable way to get some. I throw up easily, always have, so I work hard at not letting my imagination go to work on disgusting imagery. Pines are good. Snow. Rocks. If you'd like to skip the gross-out parts, skip "Punch-Up Notes" and "Those Old Hobo Songs, They Still Speak to Us", and maybe also "Chamomile Kitten Greeting Cards".

A sample: There's a chapter of Oswalt wallowing in contempt for himself and everyone around him which ends "…and thought about how much I suddenly missed my grandma Runfola."
The next chapter is titled "Mary C. Runfola Explains Her Gifts" and it begins
EIGHTH BIRTHDAY
A picture of Chuck Yeager signed to someone named "Jimmy"
Grandma Runfola: Well I know how much you liked that Space Battles movie. And I thought--yes, all right, dear, yes, Star Wars. So anyway, I was at this rummage sale and they had a table--well, one man there had a table, and I don't think he was with the rummage sale people because he had his table set up a little bit off to the side. Well, he had two tables. One table was all these photographs of celebrities. And the other table had a large beach towel over it. And I couldn't see what was under the beach towel but I was standing there looking at the different pictures and every now and then a young man would come up to the man selling pictures. And all of these young men either had these really close crew cuts or blond hair and they looked like if a punch in the face could get up and walk around and wear clothing. And the man selling pictures would let them lift the towel and it looked like all these knives and Nazi stuff. And the punch-in-the-face men would buy a knife or a patch. Maybe they were actors buying props for a stage show.
Oh, but anyway, Chuck Yeager. Well, you liked Sp--yes, dear, Star Wars. Well you liked that movie so much and did you know Chuck Yeager was kind of a space pilot, like that Han Solo fellow? Oh, yes, I know Han Solo, your grandmother didn't just fall off the pickle truck. Han Solo and Mr. Spock and Robbie the Robot and everyone. Well, the signature meant that Chuck Yeager actually held this photo, which makes it even more valuable.

If you like his sense of humor, which I mostly do, you will enjoy this book. If you don't know it, I don't think this is the place to start.

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