I just finished reading Wil Wheaton's The Happiest Days of Our Lives in one sitting. If that's not enough of a book review in itself, I don't know what is. :)
To the right, you'll notice a screengrab from wikipedia's entry on Wesley Crusher. I wasn't fond of him (the character), though I didn't hate him like many; in fact, I think I disliked Wil Riker more (though Wheaton's fond memories of Frakes have certainly tempered that).
I saw every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and while I wouldn't call myself a fan, I really liked it at the time. And here I am now, two decades older, and I can't even really remember much about the show. I'm not really interested in seeing it again, and I'm certainly not particularly interested in frickin' Wesley Crusher.
Here's the thing, though: when I read Wheaton's blog, I don't think about that Crusher kid, unless the character is specifically mentioned. In part it's because Wheaton has, as I have (we're two years apart in age), grown up and become an adult. Mostly, though, it's due to something else, something that many of us have trouble realizing with celebrities, especially those not on the paparazzi radar: the actor ≠ the character.
Nothing reinforces that (perhaps obvious) statement than reading The Happiest Days of Our Lives. It, like his previous efforts Dancing Barefoot and Just a Geek, is a collection of autobiographical, memoir-type stories, though that description doesn't really do it justice. These are more like vignettes, little memories that come across as if he's sitting there with you, Guiness in hand, telling you the story (in this respect at least, his writing reminds me of a smaller-scale Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman).
This conversational tone is one of the great things about his blog, actually, and this carries right over to the book (naturally so, since many of these stories appeared there first). For example, at one point he listed some of his Star Wars action figures: "...Obi-Wan Kenobi (I lost the plastic robe and broke the tip off the light saber version), Princess Leia (pre-slave girl 'man I wish I could hit that' version), C-3PO (tarnished version), R2-D2 (head stopped clicking a long time ago version)...."
I wanted to respond, "yeah, man, my brother's R2 stopped clicking too, and we didn't have a lot of the same figures you did, but I had the ultra cool Lando Calrissian (Skiff Guard Disguise version) with the helmet, though my cousin lost him in the mud at the bottom of my grandpa's pond."
The best thing, though, is that I was wrong in one assumption. The title, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, coupled with the late-70's-early-80s photos on the outside sort of implied that Wheaton would be reinforcing the old adage about childhood being the best time of your life. On the contrary, these stories come from his whole life, from early childhood ("the butterfly tree") right up to present day ("lying in odessa"), sending a much better message -- they're *all* the happiest days. Even in "let go - a requiem for Felix the Bear", one gets the sense that despite the decidedly *un*happy loss, he wouldn't trade that memory for the world.
So enjoy your days. And buy Wil's book.
My soundtrack for the book was varied, though the most fitting was Valgeir Sigurðsson's Ekvílíbrium (so much so that i had to mention it). Imagine the excellent chilled electronic glitch of múm with a male singer-songwriter-but-reminiscent-of-Björk-type vocal. Wait, don't imagine it, try it for yourself: "Baby Architect" and an excellent instrumental, "Equilibrium Is Restored". The latter, in fact, came up during Felix's requiem, and was probably the tipping point for that one tear that escaped. (Dammit! I have a rep to maintain!)