My Best Friend Is A Wookiee
It’s awfully easy to lump us Star Wars fans into two major generational groups: Those of us who saw the original theatrical releases as kids, and those who have spent their collective childhood growing up on the prequels and The Clone Wars cartoons.
What this glosses over, though, is that even though it was out of the public eye for a big chunk of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Star Wars never really went away: It just lived rather quietly on VHS tapes and television broadcasts, and the saga’s fans who grew up in that time fall into kind of a squishy era of missing out on the originals, but having moved beyond the grade-school wonder mindset by the time the prequels came out.
Tony Pacitti was one of those kids, and his book, My Best Friend Is A Wookiee: One Boy’s Journey to Find His Place in The Galaxy, makes for a fun coming-of-age read that really captures that in-between-time, both in terms of Star Wars and in the awkward and painful and still hilarious years of late kid-dom.
You can probably imagine my reaction a couple months back when I got an email from fellow GeekDad writer Jonathan Liu which read, in part, “Hey, I’m sending you this Star Wars fan memoir I picked up at San Diego Comic Con.” (Yes, it was pretty much, “Star Wars fan memoir? Sonofabitchinfrakkinmundanenoodle…”)
And then I saw that Jonathan had not only had Tony sign it for me, but that Tony had actually written something nice about Collect All 21! in the inscription, and dammit, I couldn’t be mad anymore, especially after I couldn’t put down My Best Friend Is A Wookiee for the next couple days. (We also got to meet face-to-face at Celebration V not too long afterward, which was cool: Tony’s a nice guy, and if you get the chance, you should try to catch him at a reading or a con or a signing.)
I enjoyed his book on a couple levels. I’m a sucker for personal nostalgia that’s unafraid to take on the really crappy side of the middle-and-high-school years, for starters. (Which reminds me: This is an R-rated book. Seriously. Tony’s done a superb job of channeling his inner-12-year-old and then his sometimes-troublemaking-teenager and the result is an honest and often foul-mouthed recollection, and truth be told, some of the wincing I did was mostly at remembering the way my friends and I sometimes talked and acted when no adults were around.)
Of course, the Star Wars enthusiasm is hugely common ground, and even with our generational differences, there are still many familiar moments of saga-related awesome. His own Lucas-inspired parody project – a school paper on the digestive system titled “Indiana Skywalker and the Rectum of Doom” – took me back to the way my friend Jacob and I reinvented Empire with all manner of juvenile humor and later defaced his Jedi storybook with silver magic markers, howling with laughter the whole time.
Tony’s book and his story and his childhood differ from my own in so many ways – and yet, because there was this movie, this Star Wars thing, which occupied an important spot in both our lives, reading My Best Friend Is A Wookiee was a lot like those occasions I’ve had over the years hanging out with friends and reminiscing and geeking out about bizarre moments and half-forgotten times. Especially if you’re a Star Wars fan, it’s not just what’s in the pages: It’s what they’ll wake up in your own head.