I'd like to thank comedian, actor, author and lead Ratatouille
voice Patton Oswalt
for disproving an axiom. Somewhere along the way, art snobs decided that self-indulgence is a bad thing. I suppose this can be occasionally true, if you happen to disagree with the auto-gratuitous auteur's worldview but even then, at the very least it's interesting ... and education is never a heavy burden to carry.
In Zombie, Spaceship, Wasteland
, Oswalt indulges his every whimsy, his every stopped-at-a-red-light daydream, his every doodle scribbled on the back of a Chinese take-out menu.
And the result is superb.
Despite being a thoroughly self-indulgent book (or, perhaps, because of that), Zombie, Spaceship, Wasteland
did what all great art should do: it provided me a causeway to a deeper vantage point of my inner self. A full dose of Patton's psychology shortens the psychic chord between me and all things. It also happens to be as entertaining as a Harvard campus mullet flash mob (read: very).
The book is broken up into different segments of memoir, punctuated by (generally shorter) pieces of pure comedy. He takes us into his adolescence as a ticket-ripper at the local movie-plex, introducing us to his weird characters in up-close, present-tense narrative. He explains the role that dungeons and dragons played in his pre-pubescent development. He takes us up to the Vancouver suburbs to relive his very first headlining comedy gig, which *spoiler* was a nightmare. He explores the frayed synapses of his uncle with schizophrenia, and how that madness taught him about his own relationship with the world. He dazzles us with absurd restaurant wine-lists and a hilarious comic strip about the mellow-dramatic nature of vampires. All interesting, poignant, funny and brutally honest.
Most importantly, he develops a thesis. He posits that every creative person subconsciously injects their worldview into one of the following thematic aesthetics: zombies, spaceships, or wastelands. Me personally? I've found that my enthusiasm for abstraction and flair for futurism renders me a pretty obvious spaceship dweller. Patton's idiom? Well, fans of his comedy can just recall his liquor-ad lady coiting with the entire softball team in the abandoned hospital to get a general idea of his take on the American landscape.
But Patton's manifesto is every bit as generous to the modern American experience as it is biting. His concepts are well-developed, his imagery is vivid, and his turn of the phrase manages to remain maybe his greatest strength.
Check him out in a few pretty insightful interviews with him on : The Bill Simmons Report (1/19/11), and WTF w/ Marc Maron.