I'm a squirrel reader.
In that I'll be in the middle of a perfectly satisfactory book, but upon catching a glance of another interesting book from the corner of my eye SQUIRREL!
But even having dropped the other three books I'm reading so I could devour this one, I can't really qualify it as a squirrel book -- since I've been waiting for its release for several months.
Patton Oswalt is one of my favorite comics. And a fellow Virginia native. If you're unfamiliar with him, then...well, use the internet. You're already on it. Or check out the film The Comedians of Comedy, which highlights Patton and three more of my favorite comedians.
Patton's book is a collection of essays, which are a mixture of memoir and random creative bits. How ironic that I would mention in the previous post my "refreshing" break from cynicism and dick jokes, just to dive right back into such. This book really wasn't what I was expecting, though. I was anticipating something more along the lines of his recent essay in Wired magazine, on the explosion of geek culture. Instead, it is much more memoir-ish and story based. Which is fine. Although it seemed like a book unable to make up its mind as to what it is. Funny, yes. But I feel sorry for the cataloguers responsible for classifying it. On one page it's a touching tale about his lonely, mentally unstable uncle, and on the next it's a satirical critique of a hobo poem.
But overall of course I loved it, because he's a nerd and I'm a nerd. And nerds love finding consolation in other nerds' tales of obsession and self-loathing.
Taken out of context these quotes probably don't work so great. But I will try to explain them the best I can beforehand.
On being entranced by film as a teenager:
I saw how that flat square of sepia light replaced the hard dimensions around us. I wanted to get on the other side of it.
People will find transformation and transcendence in a McDonald's hashbrown if it's all they've got.
From notes Patton has written to an imaginary screenwriter concerning his imaginary screenplay:
I don't want to be insulting, but the character of Sebastian Plush is written as if the writer has never met or seen a gay person. Do we get any laughs from his being a flamingo tamer beyond the first joke, where the flamingo jabs its beak into the minister's crotch?
Also, I don't know why the font for all of Sebastian's lines is suddenly Lucinda Calligraphy, where the rest of the script is just plain old Courier. And all these music cues--is a different Abba song going to play every time Sebastian appears?
Descriptions of imaginary wines:
"Freshman Thanksgiving" Pinot Noir
A Nietzschean blend of arrogant pinot grapes, half-informed with an amusing smugness. Fermented in stainless steel vats, formed from iron ore mined by exploited workers in Guatemala, whom our government uses as drug mules to fund a shadow war that's gone unreported for more than fifty years. Great when paired with Gang of Four or Fugazi CDs, southern Hunan cuisine (not the northern provinces, which are so fucking mainstream I want to puke), and ironic T-shirts.
It reminded me of how literati avoid genre fiction or film snobs sniff at big-budget Hollywood movies or exploitation trash. It was how a lot of musicians treated rap and hip-hop when they first appeared.
But avoiding the trash makes you miss truly astonishing moments of truth, genius, and invention. If you shut your mind to science fiction, you're never going to read The Martian Chronicles or The Left Hand of Darkness.