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Patton Oswalt, Author

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Already known as an actor (King of Queens, Big Fan) and a rat (the voice of Remy the rodent chef in the 2007 animated Pixar hit Ratatouille), comedian Patton Oswalt is now an author, too. Like his stand-up, Oswalt's first book, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland (Scribner), is a self-deprecating mishmash of musings on growing up outside Washington, D.C., the often vapid early-90s comedy scene, and his place in the great world of nerddom. Some of Oswalt's best bits are about his listless high school years. The book's first narrative, "Ticket Booth," describes his time working at the local cinema, where he ran scams and tormented the assistant manager, who lived in one of the theater's supply closets. Oswalt's storytelling prowess and wit shine through in "The Victory Tour," which masochistically recounts an 11-day performing stint arranged by a club owner described as "the human equivalent of rancid clam chowder." Inserted between the stories are a host of tangents, including Oswalt's own peculiar wine menu, a series of warped greeting cards, and translations of old hobo song lyrics. Who on earth wouldn't be curious about the meaning of "oatmeal pants" or "dead mouse pecker puppet"? Oswalt headlines the Comedy Death Ray event, Friday at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (aka C2E2), which also features Scott Aukerman, Dan Telfer, and Joe Mande. The following afternoon, he reads and signs copies of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland at Reckless Records in Wicker Park.  Fri 3/17, 6:30 PM, IGN Theater, McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore, 800-354-4003 or 203-840-5650, $25, $10 for C2E2 ticket holders, all-ages; Sat 3/18, 3:30 PM, Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee, 773-235-3727. —Kevin Warwick

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