Last week I finally got around to reading Carrie Fisher’s first official memoir, Wishful Drinking. I say first official because it’s a fact that her novels are mostly her life with the names changed to protect the guilty. Sounds suspiciously like my blog, huh? Wonder where I got the idea. Huge sections of Wishful Drinking use the same situations and clever turns of phrase that were present in her last novel, The Best Awful.
The Best Awful is the account of the aftermath of Carrie’s relationship with Bryan Lourd and her subsequent mental breakdown. Mr. Lourd, though he turned out to be gay and to have forgotten to mention that fact, cannot be blamed for her mental illness. Carrie is bipolar, an illness that is discussed, along with her alcoholism, at length in this book.
A lot of people my age and younger would recognize Carrie Fisher primarily for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars saga. These same people would not recognize that Carrie Fisher is the product of, as she calls it, “Hollywood inbreeding.” Fisher is the daughter of Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ in the Rain and Tammy) and Eddie Fisher (Butterfield 8, Mr. Elizabeth Taylor). Okay, maybe that’s not entirely fair to Mr. Fisher. He was also a very successful 50s era crooner.
Fisher’s book shows a look at the life of the child of a celebrity. What you can read into it that is not spelled out is just how lonely that childhood is. When you are the child of celebrities, the natural tables are turned, and instead of the focus being on the child, the focus, instead, is on the parents. This is not a book, however, that does the whiny poor, poor little rich girl turn.
She acknowledges that she has had advantages that other people have not. For instance, she was able to attend the Royal Dramatic Academy. She performed with her mother on stage from the age of 13 to 17. Her likeness has been made into a blow up doll and a Pez dispenser and lots of other things in between. She got an entire book deal while she was in rehab (her first stint) because she gave an interview to Esquire magazine which the publishers found witty and humorous.
I’ll never be interviewed by Esquire, let alone get offered a book deal because of my funny interview with Esquire. So, while her book makes light of many, many tragedies, you also get the sense in reading it that Fisher realizes how blessed she is in many ways to have the life she lives, even if it doesn’t remotely resemble The Normals from Scottsdale, Arizona.
I’ve always loved Carrie Fisher. I liked Princess Leia instinctively (but I think this was true of my entire generation), and when she came out with her first book, Postcards from the Edge she really cemented that likability for me. This was way, way lo many years before the revelation occurred to me that I had my own substance abuse issues. However, I’m convinced that alkies manage to recognize their own kind.
When I was drinking many, many of my friends had their own substance abuse issues, and I found that this was true across the board, regardless of whether or not I “partied” with them. I was the type that did most of my drinking in isolation. Nevertheless, the friends I socialized with were alcoholics themselves with few exceptions. My affinity with Carrie Fisher is no accident. I recognized a kindred spirit.
Her book is exceptionally funny, with some great plays on words, some insider information about her marriage to Paul Simon and some of the great music that resulted from that doomed union. There’s also a very funny anecdote about Cary Grant that illustrates how any of us can be tongue tied by the effects of celebrity, even a product of Hollywood inbreeding who was once the stepdaughter of Elizabeth Taylor and Connie Stevens.
I don’t want to ruin it for you, so you should buy your own copy or go to the library and check it out – if you like very funny women and insider information on Hollywood or if you’re a Star Wars geek or if you’re an alcoholic or if you’re bipolar. If any of those things describe you, then I think you’ll be able to relate. It’s a quick read. I finished it from cover to cover in just under two hours.
Entry filed under: Alcoholism/Substance Abuse, Books, Celebrity, Entertainment, Humor, Mental Health, Writing. Tags: Bryan Lourd, Carrie Fisher, Cary Grant, Eddie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Leia, Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars, Wishful Drinking.