OK, a little background just in case you have been vacationing for the last 30 years. Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia of Star Wars fame and has spent the next three decades living down the bagel hairdo and metallic bikini. You’re not really famous, says Fisher, until you are a Pez dispenser. Fisher has a love-hate relationship with Star Wars, relating the difficulties of losing control of your own image and dealing with the expectations of fans who believe you still should be able to wear that same bikini you donned in your twenties.
Staff Pick – Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
A while ago I picked up Carrie Fisher’s dvd of her stage show Wishful Drinking (M) and found her to be charming and funny, so this book has been on my radar for a while. I feel kind of bad that I was so amused by the rather unfortunate things that happened to her, but if you are in the mood for a quick witty read along the lines of Dry (M) by Augusten Burroughs or Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (M) by Jenny Lawson then this will be a treat.
The focus of the book is not really Star Wars however, it’s really about growing up in her famous, wacky, and confusingly extended family, and her addiction and mental health issues. Fisher grew up in a celebrity family, so for her, reading about her parents’ many, many marriages in the newspaper was quite normal. Fisher is witty and very good and puns and wordplay.
She might have inherited this from her mother Debbie Reynolds. Fisher’s ex-husband, inconveniently for her, realized he was gay and her mother had this to say “You know, dear, we’ve had every sort of man in this family – we’ve had horse thieves and alcoholics and one-man-bands – but this is our first homosexual”. Fisher, referring to her mother’s inability to sustain a marriage and the rumors that Reynolds is gay, “And not that it matters, but my mother is not a lesbian! She is just a really bad heterosexual.” Her father, Eddie Fisher, she called “Puff Daddy” because of his habit of smoking several joints a day. She is conscious of having seen her father more on television than at home.
Although called Wishful Drinking, I don’t recall reading much about alcohol. Fisher’s addiction was pills, used as a means of coping with her bipolar disorder. The story opens with the death, in her bed, along side her, of her very dear friend. Star Wars brought her fame of her own, but quickly turned her into a product. Her own marriages (first to Paul Simon and second to her daughter’s father) were as unsuccessful as her parents’. She has been in and out of rehab and never had her mental health issues addressed until she was in her thirties. Now, in her fifties, she can look back on it all and laugh.
Carrie Fisher confesses that if you open up a certain abnormal psychology text book you will see her picture, bagel hair and all. Self-deprecating, maybe a bit narcissistic, lacking any trace of self-pity and a thoroughly entertaining read.