The Happiest Days of Our Lives Revisited

Geek Culture

Back in the beginning of October, I put up a post about the publication of Wil Wheaton’s new book, The Happiest Days of our Lives (THDOOL).  I was happy about the news, and eager to get a hold of my copy.  I want to follow up today with my review. 

I’ll admit that I came to Wil’s blog originally because I am a Star
Trek geek.  Not quite a dress-up and go to cons Star Trek geek, but at least a play-by-email interactive fiction Star Trek geek.  But really, that was just the gateway drug for me to get hooked on Wil’s writing, and even inspired by it.  I can honestly say that I’m here at Geekdad in part because of Wil’s influence as a blogging geek and father.  And so, perhaps that colors my judgment a bit with respect to THDOOL.
Fine.  Here’s a grain off salt to nibble at while you read this.

This is a wonderful little book.  I hate to use a diminutive like "little," for fear of implying that THDOOL is less-than significant in some literary way; it isn’t.  It is a charming, heart-warming, laugh-inducing, tear-jerking, and even envy-inducing read.  It is not, however, long.  I’d like to argue that this is a plus.  Indeed, I think THDOOL is enjoyable in part because of its length (or lack thereof).  It is, after all, a collection of short-form writing (blog-posts), collected, expanded, massaged, and served with a steaming side of post-modern nostalgic recollection.  This is the face of contemporary introspective non-fiction, and it is exactly what we all like to read and write nowadays.  Reading THDOOL is all about getting the quick-fix of checking your RSS feeds in the morning and skimming the new posts, but then getting to take a little longer to sit down and savor something just a bit more significant.  Let me break it down for you like this:

You will enjoy THDOOL if you-
Are a geek.
Are a dad.
Grew up from the seventies to the nineties, love music, video games, Star Wars, and/or Star Trek.
Have ever had an emotional attachment to a pet.
Played D&D, especially as a kid, and especially when RPGs weren’t "acceptable" games.
Like watching or playing Texas Hold’em.
Have a sense of humor.

You will not enjoy THDOOL if you-
Don’t like "actors" (your quotes, not mine).
Can’t get past the idea that an actor can evolve to become an actor/writer, and then a writer/actor.
Don’t grok what it means to grok.

The impact of the stories in this book for me is that I connected with so many of them.  I got that D&D basic set from my uncle Doug when I was in elementary school (he was also the one who introduced me to Tolkien).  I still won’t watch Poltergeist.  I had a mean old 2nd grade teacher, named Mrs. Fuentes, with an iron grip that would leave bruises on your arm.  And I get a special joy head-banging along to songs in the car with my kids (who are picking up the great rock tunes from my era through playing Guitar Hero).

So, if any of that meant anything to any of you, I promise that you’ll find reading THDOOL a rewarding experience.  As far as I’m concerned, it gets the Geekdad book award for October, 2007.  If, you know, there was a Geekdad book award.  Which there should be.  In any case, as Wil himself might say: THDOOL, FTW!

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