Popcorn-Scented Fever Dreams

silver screen fiend cover

Title: Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life From an Addiction to Film
Author: Patton Oswalt
Published: January 6, 2015
Genre: Biography
Rating: ★★★★☆

Patton Oswalt gets me. Or rather, I think I get Patton Oswalt.

His latest book Silver Screen Fiend is all about his addiction with film – his encompassing obsession that stemmed from “If I can watch it, I can do it!” Never mind school and work and experience – Patton felt that simply absorbing as many films as he could would lead to his directorial debut. I, too, know this feeling, though perhaps not with the obsessive, social-life ruining compulsion that he attacked this fantasy – I feel sometimes as though if I read enough books, I can become a published author. Still do. Still want to. Still keep reading.

Reading this book serves as a sort of affirmation of this feeling and the silly things we do in youth when we think we know best. Some twenty years after he started this obsession, Patton still isn’t a director – but that’s not to say his journey through film fascination and the comedy stage didn’t lend him an interesting appreciation of art and life.

Peppered with anecdotes about sets at the Largo, before-they-were-famous comedians, and, of course zealously absorbing films at the New Beverly, Patton’s book is insight into the charmingly quirky comedian, although I can’t say I’d have loved to be on the end of one of his lectures while at the height of his obsession. His prose (which I can’t help but hear in the comedian’s voice) builds an engagingly descriptive picture of his cinematic world, swathed in the smell of popcorn and feverish dreams of being famous.

“Listen – you don’t have to follow me into the sunshine. If this is your first time seeing Sunset Boulevard and Ace in the Hole? By all means sit and see ’em. They’re great. I envy your getting to watch them with new eyes. But take what you need from them and get out of the dark once in a while. You’re going to have more of the dark than you can handle, sooner than you think.

The thing about the the dark is, it can never get enough of you.”

While not laugh out loud funny, I found it to be an amusing depiction of how life doesn’t particularly turn out how we expect sometimes, despite best intentions and harebrained plans. And, of course, I have the itch to take Patton up on some of his recommendations – after all those years of cinematic gluttony, he’s got to have some idea of what’s good, right?

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