By Wil Wheaton
Illustrations by Ben Claassen III
$14.95 US $21.95 CAN
The five stories in Dancing Barefoot originally appeared on Wil Wheaton’s very own website http://www.wilwheaton.net. The first four stories are written blog style, with short sentences and short paragraphs and run from two to five pages long. The fifth story, The Saga of SpongeBob Vegas Pants subtitled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Star Trek” could arguably be the only reason this book was published. At 72 pages, it caters to the Star Trek fan base, the group that Mr. Wheaton describes on page 86. “They can be the most hyper-critical audience in the world. They have booed me off the stage. They’ve marched up to me at conventions to tell me how much they hated me. Some of these people have a sense of entitlement that you’ll never see anywhere else.”
Part of the SpongeBob story relates Mr. Wheaton’s distaste for WILLIAM FUCKING SHATNER, (his words, not mine.) Not having met Mr. Shatner nor been a fan of his I cannot say if the stories of his arrogance are true or not. However, I found it distasteful that every time he’s referred to in the story, it’s always in capital letters and always as written above. We got the point, Wil, after the first ten times you wrote his name.
The other four stories and their subject matter in the book are “Houses in Motion“, about his deceased Aunt Val’s house; “Ready or Not, Here I Come!” about playing hide and seek with his stepchildren; “Inferno“, a flashback about his encounter with a girl at age 15; and “We Close Our Eyes“, about walking in the rain with his wife. The best of the lot is “Houses in Motion.”
Personal stories by interesting people with good writing skills are always enjoyable to read, and in fact is one of the greatest draws of the internet these days. Bloggers abound, and there is no lack of exceptional reading material. I find Mr. Wheaton’s stories neither interesting nor enjoyable. Part of the reason could be that I am not a Star Trek fan. In fact, I’m not much of a movie star fan. I was looking forward to reading his book when I saw it announced because I often run across references to Wil Wheaton’s blog in my daily Internet travels. I could have done myself a favor and checked that out before committing to read this book. I found his stories banal and trivial, and possibly interesting only to his fan base. What happens to Wil Wheaton in ordinary life that he writes about is not much different from anyone else’s life. I don’t find it particularly courageous of him to share that with us, simply because he’s a movie star.
The illustrations by Ben Claassen III are simple line drawing cartoons that minimally relate to the subject matter. The book cover drawn by the same artist, however, does have a certain charm and appeal. The cover itself may be the best thing about the book.
If you are a Star Trek fan, and especially a fan of Wil Wheaton’s character Wesley Crusher you may find the insights to his personal life entertaining. Even if so, I have a notion that you could glean as much from just visiting his website and save yourself fifteen bucks. If you are not a fan, I’d definitely say don’t waste your money on this slim volume of stories.