If the film Fanboys left your “life revolving around Star Wars” approach to storytelling appetite wanting, then My Best Friend Is A Wookiee is the book for you.
Honestly though, despite the title, Tony Pacitti’s real yet captivating memoir is about so much more than George Lucas’ best creation. The subtitle of the book from Adams Media is “one boy’s journey to find his place in the galaxy” and that’s a more apt description. Using Star Wars as equal parts inspiration, consolation and (with the later prequels) frustration Pacitti weaves an honest tale of his journey from adolescence to adulthood from his love affair after seeing his mother’s VHS copy taped from the TV of The Empire Strikes Back to his orbit around all things Star Wars including the novels, trading cards, a painful tattoo and the assorted merchandise that constitutes every good childhood.
Every geek can relate to his raw anecdotes from the torment of school bullies to the frightening discovery of women to the search for identity.
Occasionally the book gets serious when dealing with typical teenaged issues and the effects of the Columbine school shootings upon himself and his circle of friends, but generally it’s a seamless narrative collecting the kinds of awkward experiences that any pop culture loving kid of the ‘80s and ‘90s can relate to. Honestly, even if you don’t love Star Wars as much as Pacitti does (and he does, for the most part) it’s still an immensely satisfying read. Pacitti is a charming underdog throughout, desperately clinging to his love of Lucas’ galactic epic during all its shifts in quality and popularity.
This really is a must read book for anyone who’s loved and lost in the worlds of reality or fiction. Perhaps two quotes might best give an idea of the diversity of Pacitti’s understandable feelings.
“I suppose it’s because I felt like one of those midgets in teddy-bear pajamas, watching and listening with eyes and ears open wide as the amazing saga of Luke, Han, and Leia played out before me. If I hadn’t known it before, I certainly knew it then: I was in love.”
“The cheers subsided, the text scroll started, and over the next two hours and some-odd minutes, I learned the true meaning of heartbreak.”
Amongst the love and eventual hatred, (but still respect) of Star Wars Pacitti tells consistently entertaining tales of his daily life including his attempt to reveal his ESP abilities in front of his shocked classroom, the popularity of his “Indiana Skywalker and the Rectum of Doom” short story, his flirtation with drug use, the shifting relationships of his circle of friends/enemies, his charming dalliances with trying to understand himself and women and more. It’s 230 pages that seem to go by at light speed because it’s so irresistibly readable.
I remember news reports about The Sixth Sense making so much money because it had the first trailer of The Phantom Menace in front of it. I saw the film three times in its opening week and reading Pacitti’s memoir made me laugh, wince and empathise in equal amounts. After finishing it, it did make me want to see all six films again, and that’s never a bad thing.
My Best Friend is a deservedly widely praised book as a glance at the front and back covers will inform you, but it’s not a book just for geeks, and it’s not a book with a Star Wars reference on every page either. It’s a universal tale of a boy becoming a man and dealing with the stuff that we all do, while emotionally entangled by the ultimate sci-fi adventure, and despite Lucas’ constant tinkering attempts at “betterment” the memories of our childhood stay with us long after the credits.