I was very sad to hear of Carrie Fisher’s death last December. I read Wishful Drinking a year ago and really loved it. I’d forgotten at the time that she was a hilarious and talented writer, and I decided that I needed to eventually read everything she’s written. Her autobiographies, of which this is the second, are all on Audible, so I’m starting with those. She narrates them herself, which is always an added pleasure with the memoirs of performers. Her fictional novels are also on Audible, but they all seem to be abridged, so I’ll be looking for those elsewhere.
There’s no room for demons when you’re self-possessed.
This does cover some of the same ground as her last autobiography in detailing her experiences with electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), but it’s worth repeating. The treatment has such a stigma associated with it and people still compare it to medieval torture, when it fact it’s come a long way, so it really was courageous and important for someone in the public eye to share their experiences. Carrie Fisher actually did a lot in her life for the awareness of mental health, particularly with bipolar disorder.
The worst side-effect of ECT is memory loss, and while the idea of forgetting important events is horrifying, it’s an acceptable trade-off for the positive effects the treatment can have on people like Fisher. She had to go in for small maintenance bouts of ECT, and she said she wanted to write down these memories, what was left of them, in case they disappeared. And why not publish it while she was at it?
This is a, somewhat disjointed, collection of stories from her life, centred largely around her relationship with her famous parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and her perpetually flatulent, personality-lacking step-father. She took what was clearly hurtful abandonment and was able to look back on it with a lot of humour. It’s very funny at times, but not like the first book. This one has a much more thoughtful tone.
I didn’t really know too much about Eddie Fisher or Elizabeth Taylor, but it didn’t matter; in this they’re just her dysfunctional parents. There’s a chapter on her experiences with Michael Jackson and one covering a rude and sexist dinner conversation with Ted Kennedy, and even though I have no real interest in reading about either of those people, she still managed to keep it interesting. It’s hard not to list the topics of this without it sounding like a name-dropping tell-all, which I suppose it is, but she lived her life, whether she liked it or not, in this ridiculous celebrity world. Thankfully, the stories still feel personal and, if anything, she seemed genuinely embarrassed and bored of stardom.
What you’ll have of me after I journey to that great Death Star in the sky is an extremely accomplished daughter, a few books, and a picture of a stern-looking girl wearing some kind of metal bikini lounging on a giant drooling squid, behind a newscaster informing you of the passing of Princess Leia after a long battle with her head.
I really enjoyed this, although I think I preferred the first book. This one had more poignant, insightful moments, which I loved, but the first book felt like more of a complete package, and as it started life as a one-woman show, it was a bit snappier.