I’ve always loved a good celebrity biography. Even better are the autobiographies, in which you not only get the good stuff, you get the good stuff in (mostly) the author’s own words. I’ve read some good ones and some not-so-good ones. The best celebrity biography I’ve ever read HANDS DOWN was Anne Murray’s – which is going to get its own blog post some day. Carrie Fisher’s , sadly, lands in the not-so-good pile.
If someone forced me to say what I liked best about Carrie Fisher’s book of anecdotes from her life, I’d have to say it’s the cover. A drunk Princess Leia, likely at the poshest gay bar on Alderaan, is the stroke of a genius. I also think the title is mildly amusing, especially considering Fisher’s well-known battles with substance abuse over the years. But as they say, you should never judge a book by its cover. The cover is really as good as it gets.
I think the thing that bugged me most about this book is that it is really a memoir by the very loosest of definitions. One of my biggest complaints about celebrity bios is that we always have to suffer through the part before they were famous, especially their childhood. Usually, I’m just there for the good stuff and 99% of the time, the good stuff does not happen in their childhood. But the thing is, the early years is where the groundwork gets laid, where you start to make a connection to both the celebrity and to their cast of characters. Fisher eschews this almost completely, jumping right in to the middle of her life and then cherry picking after that. As a result, I never felt like I formed a connection with her and consequently, I ended up liking her less than I thought I would have. Before I started reading the book, I really had no opinion of her. Afterwards, I was kind of backing away slowly. That being said, I do admire the way that she wears her bipolar diagnosis on her shirt sleeve. The only way that the stigma of mental illness will ever lessen is by talking about it, and man, does she ever. She talks about her addictions, her famous parents – Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. At one point, she talks about how she had a chance to become another Liza Minnelli and in a way, she did because she did marry a gay man.
Another thing I disliked about the book was its writing style. The book is adapted from Fisher’s one woman show of the same name, and you can tell. Much like books made from blog posts, Wishful Drinking seems like it completely skipped the editor on its way to the publisher. She writes in a conversational tone which I suppose since it’s her book she can write it however she wants, but I found it annoying after about 50 pages. Eventually, I really wanting to tell her to stop talking already. The good thing is that, at 156 pages with copious amounts of white space on the page, it took all of two and a half minutes to read.
It’s too bad because I really wanted to like this book. I hoped that it might have some good stories from the set of the Star Wars movies, but alas, it did not. It did mention a movie she did with Chevy Chase called Under The Rainbow which I hadn’t thought about in 30 years. Truthfully, I’d rather rewatch that film than reread this book.