From what I can see of the people like me, we get better but we never get well. – Paul Simon
Star Wars was the first movie I saw in a theater. I was six years old, and didn’t understand much of it, except that Princess Leia had the best hair in the galaxy. I wanted to strut around an orbital battle station in snowy white, dirt-repelling robes, looking like I had two danishes stuck to my head. The force was definitely with that hair.
Much time passed, and now I am 42 and loving the sadder, wiser princess in Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, a memoir based on her one-woman show. The trio of original Star Wars films made an indelible impression on Fisher and an entire culture, inspiring the brass-bikini-fueled fantasies of a generation of men. But in truth, Aldaron’s premier royal didn’t have much humor or nuance to her character. In her memoir, Fisher pans her Star Wars performance and subsequent “Leia-laden life,” replete with the dolls, PEZ shooters and shampoo bottles it spawned.
Fisher was born into wealth and stardom; her parents are the glamorous and charmingly eccentric Debbie Reynolds and the less charming Eddie Fisher. Though she is often associated with George Lucas’ films and her on-again-off-again role as Paul Simon’s muse, she has experienced much greater creative success as a novelist, and on stage with Wishful Drinking.
This is a quick read and a wildly funny one. Fisher has a foul mouth, so proceed with caution if you are easily shocked or simply prefer your comedy PG. Whenever a book or film is referred to as a “romp” I am instantly wary since this seems to be the new code word for depressing. But I pronounce this little book a romp. I listened to the audio version as well, which is read – performed, I should say, by Fisher – but if you choose the audio, do pick up the book for the photographs.
Fisher has lived with mental illness. She is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, who was recently tipped over into despair by the death of a close friend. She endured electroconvulsive therapy to cope with her depression, and as a result, has forfeited a Death Star-sized chunk of memory. But the girl comes out swinging, and her weapon is her formidable talent. I take my hat off to anyone who names her two moods “Roy” and “Pam.” That is spinning straw into gold.
Here, one of many lines that lingered for me: “…I heard someone once say that we’re only as sick as our secrets. If that’s true, then this book will go a long way to rendering me amazingly well.” Happy reading, and may you also be well.
If you enjoy this book, her novels could also fit the bill: Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful and Postcards from the Edge, for which she also wrote the screenplay. And hold on to your braided buns, because she has another memoir! Shockaholic was published in 2011 and may be even more hilarious than Wishful Drinking, but also more crude and (in the details of the passing of Eddie Fisher) more sad.