Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton Oswalt
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 also Patton spends many a page recalling awesome films in Los Angeles movie houses during the mid-90s, the time that I'd just moved to LA. Call it a nostalgia star.
The book starts a bit rough, almost schizophrenic-like. It felt like he was intentionally setting the bar, trying to see who was willing and able to keep up and put up with his esoteric references and the flip-flopping from movies to comedy. This was well within my wheelhouse and even I was somewhat put off.
However, once you get through the beginning, Patton settles down into some solid soliloquy on silver screen gems and personal anecdotes relating to stand-up. He details his early-years struggle and takes the reader through the start of his career in comedy, including some slap-in-the-face moments when he realized he needed to hone his craft or call it quits.
I remember seeing Patton in the '90s on Comedy Central specials and shows like Dr. Katz. He was an "angry comedian" back then in the vein of Sam Kinison or Lewis Black. Time has mellowed him some. Time and a whole lot of work has given him success. It was nice to watch his transformation and I was happy for him. Then in the spring of 2016 (FUCK YOU 2016!!!) he lost his wife. She died in her sleep and left him to care for his daughter without her. I doubt we'll see much comedy or any new books from Patton for a while. So, I'll be going back and reading his old stuff and hoping he can pull himself through these tough times.
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