Book Reviews of I, Fatty

I, Fatty
I Fatty
Author: Jerry Stahl
ISBN-13: 9781582345826
ISBN-10: 1582345821
Publication Date: 7/5/2005
Pages: 256
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 10

4 stars, based on 10 ratings
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

8 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed I, Fatty on + 410 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Writing in first person as Fatty Arbuckle, Jerry Stahl creates yet another outrageously great book. Hilarious and sad, this recounts the origins of celebrity scandal so prevalent in our culture.
reviewed I, Fatty on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The story of silent screen start Fatty Arbuckle who despite all odds, rose to fame. A scandal, however, quickly sent him plummeting. Very well-written.
reviewed I, Fatty on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
An acerbic, harsh, funny and moving novel of silent comedic actor Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle. I have not read author Jerry Stahl before and was unfamiliar with his penchant for the degenerative dark side of humanity and the humour he can pull from that. This unique caustic wit allowed Stahl to raise Arbuckle up from the dusty past and let his voice finally be heard. Stahl did extensive research, as the bibliography shows, and places Arbuckle back up among the great comic pioneers where he belongs. But Stahl seems to get heavy handed with Abuckle's alleged drug addictions, to heroin (legal at the time and marketed by Bayer) and morphine, even using it as a device to force Fatty to tell his life story. There is no doubt he was an alcoholic and did use drugs to control pain after a horrifically botched job on a leg injury but no indication of this level of abuse. Since this is historical fiction, the author can take artistic license and include his required use of heroin that he jokes at his readings has to be included in all of his books. This never holds up the story just muddies it a bit.

Now that the questionable drug use issue is out of the way, I can get to the meat of this review. If you want a time capsule of the turn of the century and early Hollywood, then hold on for a wow of a ride. Starting with Roscoe's birth at a hefty 16 pounds, he is ostracized for his size from then on and suffers harsh abuse by his alcoholic father. Finding himself abandoned by his father as a boy, he finagles his way onto the vaudeville stage as boy singer of illustrated songs. Along the way from singer to comedian, he does an act with the pitcher Cy Young about the benefits of health, gets caught in the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 (the only time "he and the great John Barrymore played the same roll") and has a pie fight across the Rio Grande with Pancho Villa. His Mack Sennett years, where he helps in the fledgling careers of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, teams up with Mable Normand and introduces pie fights to the world are like being included into an exclusive club. These times are written with a captivating, naive innocence that I didn't want to end. How much fun is it learn while filming in New York Arbuckle meets and dines with Enrico Caruso who compliments him on his singing. All these tidbits from the times added to the realism and enjoyment for this history and old movie junkie.

The touch of harshness and foreboding that Stahl layered in during Fatty's rise, added to the pull of the narrative although I admit I found myself not ever wanting to get to the night of the infamous party and his inevitable fall. Stahl does not shy away from explicit descriptions on what Arbuckle did try to do to revive Virginia Rappe. From here the reader is then pulled through the ensuing three trials in a horrified daze, shaking their head at the injustice of it all. Instances like Arbuckle walking up the steps of the court house for the second trial, where around 50 members of the Women's Vigilante Commission encircle him and, upon a signal and in unison, they all spit on him are dizzying yet mesmerizing. William Randolph Hearst's paper, which leads the relentless libelous pursuit against him, reported "Fatty made a most impressive centerpiece in the fountain." All of this culminates with the acquittal, along with the accompanying statement, after the third trial but sadly Arbuckle knows it doesn't matter. He valiantly tries to put his life back together, with support and help from Charlie Chaplin, Joe Schenck and his true friend Buster Keaton, but as a New York Times editorial said the day after his acquittal; "Arbuckle was a scapegoat, and the only thing to do... is to chase him off..." and they did. His response, "What do you do when the world thinks your a monster, and you know it's the world that's monstrous?", he did the best he could with the slices of pie he was given.

It is the ending that fell flat and prevented this from being five stars. It just felt rushed and a bit confused. Despite that, it is a powerful read that will have you looking up other players involved in Fatty's story or wanting to rent one or more of his movies to see this giant (no pun intended) of the silver screen. In other words you won't be ready to shut this book and forget Roscoe Arbuckle anytime soon!
reviewed I, Fatty on + 18 more book reviews
An acerbic, harsh, funny and moving novel of silent comedic actor Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle. I have not read author Jerry Stahl before and was unfamiliar with his penchant for the degenerative dark side of humanity and the humour he can pull from that. This unique caustic wit allowed Stahl to raise Arbuckle up from the dusty past and let his voice finally be heard. Stahl did extensive research, as the bibliography shows, and places Arbuckle back up among the great comic pioneers where he belongs. But Stahl seems to get heavy handed with Abuckle's alleged drug addictions, to heroin (legal at the time and marketed by Bayer) and morphine, even using it as a device to force Fatty to tell his life story. There is no doubt he was an alcoholic and did use drugs to control pain after a horrifically botched job on a leg injury but no indication of this level of abuse. Since this is historical fiction, the author can take artistic license and include his required use of heroin that he jokes at his readings has to be included in all of his books. This never holds up the story just muddies it a bit.

Now that the questionable drug use issue is out of the way, I can get to the meat of this review. If you want a time capsule of the turn of the century and early Hollywood, then hold on for a wow of a ride. Starting with Roscoe's birth at a hefty 16 pounds, he is ostracized for his size from then on and suffers harsh abuse by his alcoholic father. Finding himself abandoned by his father as a boy, he finagles his way onto the vaudeville stage as boy singer of illustrated songs. Along the way from singer to comedian, he does an act with the pitcher Cy Young about the benefits of health, gets caught in the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 (the only time "he and the great John Barrymore played the same roll") and has a pie fight across the Rio Grande with Pancho Villa. His Mack Sennett years, where he helps in the fledgling careers of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, teams up with Mable Normand and introduces pie fights to the world are like being included into an exclusive club. These times are written with a captivating, naive innocence that I didn't want to end. How much fun is it learn while filming in New York Arbuckle meets and dines with Enrico Caruso who compliments him on his singing. All these tidbits from the times added to the realism and enjoyment for this history and old movie junkie.

The touch of harshness and foreboding that Stahl layered in during Fatty's rise, added to the pull of the narrative although I admit I found myself not ever wanting to get to the night of the infamous party and his inevitable fall. Stahl does not shy away from explicit descriptions on what Arbuckle did try to do to revive Virginia Rappe. From here the reader is then pulled through the ensuing three trials in a horrified daze, shaking their head at the injustice of it all. Instances like Arbuckle walking up the steps of the court house for the second trial, where around 50 members of the Women's Vigilante Commission encircle him and, upon a signal and in unison, they all spit on him are dizzying yet mesmerizing. William Randolph Hearst's paper, which leads the relentless libelous pursuit against him, reported "Fatty made a most impressive centerpiece in the fountain." All of this culminates with the acquittal, along with the accompanying statement, after the third trial but sadly Arbuckle knows it doesn't matter. He valiantly tries to put his life back together, with support and help from Charlie Chaplin, Joe Schenck and his true friend Buster Keaton, but as a New York Times editorial said the day after his acquittal; "Arbuckle was a scapegoat, and the only thing to do... is to chase him off..." and they did. His response, "What do you do when the world thinks your a monster, and you know it's the world that's monstrous?", he did the best he could with the slices of pie he was given.

It is the ending that fell flat and prevented this from being five stars. It just felt rushed and a bit confused. Despite that, it is a powerful read that will have you looking up other players involved in Fatty's story or wanting to rent one or more of his movies to see this giant (no pun intended) of the silver screen. In other words you won't be ready to shut this book and forget Roscoe Arbuckle anytime soon!
reviewed I, Fatty on + 907 more book reviews
I found this a worth while read, sadly it's the same ole story of hollywood, fame, unhealthy life style and accusations. Fall from grace. Fatty was unwanted and this was very sad, i can see where fame made him feel important, but along with this his life style was slowly tearing him down from the inside out..then one day he has stepped over the line ...it is over. Very sad read. What makes it even sadder is it is true.
reviewed I, Fatty on + 5 more book reviews
Fictionalized version of the life of Fatty Arbuckle. He is the narrarator. Based on all the true events in his life. Very interesting perspective.
reviewed I, Fatty on + 34 more book reviews
i liked stahl's "permanent midnight" - his writing reminds me of james ellroy's - gritty & funny. altho this is called a novel, he based it on the true story
reviewed I, Fatty on + 18 more book reviews
An acerbic, harsh, funny and moving novel of silent comedic actor Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle. I have not read author Jerry Stahl before and was unfamiliar with his penchant for the degenerative dark side of humanity and the humour he can pull from that. This unique caustic wit allowed Stahl to raise Arbuckle up from the dusty past and let his voice finally be heard. Stahl did extensive research, as the bibliography shows, and places Arbuckle back up among the great comic pioneers where he belongs. But Stahl seems to get heavy handed with Abuckle's alleged drug addictions, to heroin (legal at the time and marketed by Bayer) and morphine, even using it as a device to force Fatty to tell his life story. There is no doubt he was an alcoholic and did use drugs to control pain after a horrifically botched job on a leg injury but no indication of this level of abuse. Since this is historical fiction, the author can take artistic license and include his required use of heroin that he jokes at his readings has to be included in all of his books. This never holds up the story just muddies it a bit.

Now that the questionable drug use issue is out of the way, I can get to the meat of this review. If you want a time capsule of the turn of the century and early Hollywood, then hold on for a wow of a ride. Starting with Roscoe's birth at a hefty 16 pounds, he is ostracized for his size from then on and suffers harsh abuse by his alcoholic father. Finding himself abandoned by his father as a boy, he finagles his way onto the vaudeville stage as boy singer of illustrated songs. Along the way from singer to comedian, he does an act with the pitcher Cy Young about the benefits of health, gets caught in the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 (the only time "he and the great John Barrymore played the same roll") and has a pie fight across the Rio Grande with Pancho Villa. His Mack Sennett years, where he helps in the fledgling careers of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, teams up with Mable Normand and introduces pie fights to the world are like being included into an exclusive club. These times are written with a captivating, naive innocence that I didn't want to end. How much fun is it learn while filming in New York Arbuckle meets and dines with Enrico Caruso who compliments him on his singing. All these tidbits from the times added to the realism and enjoyment for this history and old movie junkie.

The touch of harshness and foreboding that Stahl layered in during Fatty's rise, added to the pull of the narrative although I admit I found myself not ever wanting to get to the night of the infamous party and his inevitable fall. Stahl does not shy away from explicit descriptions on what Arbuckle did try to do to revive Virginia Rappe. From here the reader is then pulled through the ensuing three trials in a horrified daze, shaking their head at the injustice of it all. Instances like Arbuckle walking up the steps of the court house for the second trial, where around 50 members of the Women's Vigilante Commission encircle him and, upon a signal and in unison, they all spit on him are dizzying yet mesmerizing. William Randolph Hearst's paper, which leads the relentless libelous pursuit against him, reported "Fatty made a most impressive centerpiece in the fountain." All of this culminates with the acquittal, along with the accompanying statement, after the third trial but sadly Arbuckle knows it doesn't matter. He valiantly tries to put his life back together, with support and help from Charlie Chaplin, Joe Schenck and his true friend Buster Keaton, but as a New York Times editorial said the day after his acquittal; "Arbuckle was a scapegoat, and the only thing to do... is to chase him off..." and they did. His response, "What do you do when the world thinks your a monster, and you know it's the world that's monstrous?", he did the best he could with the slices of pie he was given.

It is the ending that fell flat and prevented this from being five stars. It just felt rushed and a bit confused. Despite that, it is a powerful read that will have you looking up other players involved in Fatty's story or wanting to rent one or more of his movies to see this giant (no pun intended) of the silver screen. In other words you won't be ready to shut this book and forget Roscoe Arbuckle anytime soon!