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If everyone talked about art the way Patton Oswalt talks about Van Gogh and The Night Café, museums would need velvet ropes and bouncers to manage the crowds.

Yes, Patton Oswalt was dangerously addicted to movies—an addiction he overcame thanks (inadvertently) to George Lucas and revival theater owner Sherman Torgan, his de facto dealer. But while Patton’s celluloid dependency was a struggle that consumed his relationships, his work, and his daily life in L.A., we’re all now the beneficiaries of that addiction in the form of Silver Screen Fiend, a blood-on-the-keyboard memoir that intertwines his cinematic obsession with the twisted creative process that lurks behind the seemingly (but not at all) off-the-cuff world of standup comedy.

Yeah, Patton’s a pop culture addict, but more than that, he’s also a pop culture evangelist who sees flashes of beauty and brilliance in even the most disposable grindhouse horror flick. He’d be working for Trunkworthy if we could afford him, but we’d rather he spend his time making Trunkworthy movies like Big Fan, Young Adult, or simply (oh, how he’d want to smack us for implying this is “simple”) continuing to be one of the best comics currently practicing on planet Earth.

Silver Screen Fiend is the first book we’ve ever pitched on Trunkworthy (there will be others), because it reads like an alternate Trunkworthy guide to movies. And while we marvel at the way Oswalt talks about early noir, Jerry Lewis, and the dividends inherent in repeat viewings of Casablanca, we were most profoundly floored by an early passage where he lays out the history and personal significance of a painting. Yes, a painting. Not just any painting, of course, but Vincent van Gogh’s The Night Café. He writes about fine art not like a rarefied critic talking about a pheasant under glass but like a mad, gonzo rock writer, shoving the searing psychosis of the work in our faces and forcing us to sit face-to-face with the meaning of the art instead of its history. Martin Mull once made a crack about how writing about music is like “dancing about architecture,” but damn if Patton Oswalt didn’t get us dancing to Van Gogh. Imagine Lester Bangs tackling a chapter of Art Through the Ages, and you start to get the idea.


And while it’s a great read, in this case it’s an even better listen. The audiobook version of Silver Screen Fiend, read by Patton himself, isn’t your standard book-on-tape experience. It’s more like winning the chance to have dinner with him while he’s doing one of his best sets right across the table.

To make the point, we’re posting Patton’s description of The Night Café, excerpted from the audiobook. But be warned: His Night Café could become your Night Café—a place that changes you forever.

Excerpted from SILVER SCREEN FIEND by Patton Oswalt, read by the author. Courtesy of Simon & Schuster Audio.

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