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Patton Oswalt’s latest book feels a little too light

Patton Oswalt’s Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

This book is like its author: smart, funny and short. Patton Oswalt’s Zombie Spaceship Wasteland combines memoir, graphic novel, comedic essay and poem—specifically an ode to Ulvaak, a Dungeons & Dragons character Oswalt created with a couple rolls of a 20-sided dice.

The Details

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
Three and a half stars
By Patton Oswalt

“Dungeons and Dragons was the game I played,” writes Oswalt. “All through middle school and the first couple years of high school—until the possibility of sex hove into view. Before that, sex seemed like something for tall people who could run fast.”

The memoir sections shine, particularly one about the author’s childhood spent working the ticket booth at a crappy Virginia movie theater and another about his weeklong stint at a crappy Surrey, Canada, comedy club. The club owner was “the human equivalent of rancid clam chowder,” and, needless to say, the crowd didn’t quite “get” Oswalt’s act. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is sweet and sad in all the right places, but for a man who loves literature so much—a guy who mentions The Bridge to Terabithia in the intro and cites Willa Cather and Joseph Conrad in the thank-you section—it’s awfully light.


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Previous Discussion:

  • An offhand touch and the plot's peculiar circumstances help lighten the sometimes dark story.

  • The author's new collection is creepy, titillating and impossible to put down.

  • Art history as a continual unfolding of ideas and forms is just one of the author's concerns.

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