Doodad Kind of Town

Quick Read: Carrie Fisher’s "Wishful Drinking"
December 13, 2008, 3:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I picked up Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” at my local Borders store about 4 hours ago. Since then, I’ve had dinner, made a series of phone calls to friends and family, watched a Seinfeld rerun – and read the book from cover to cover.

As Shakespeare once wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and by that standard, “Wishful Drinking” is the wittiest book you’ll pick up all year. At $21, this slender volume carries a mighty hefty price tag. But perhaps I’m being ungenerous. As its famously troubled author admits, “I tell this story partly as a means to reclaim whatever I can of my former life.” And by former life, she means the part that preceded a series of electroconvulsive therapy treatments which have caused her to lose portions of her memory.

That sounds tragic, as do most of Fisher’s well-publicized battles with manic-depression, addiction, rehab and crazy celebrity parents. But Fisher isn’t interested in throwing herself any pity parties. In this book -adapted from her stage show of the same name – Fisher is once again putting her coping mechanisms (razor-sharp humor and, dazzling wordplay) on full, unabashed display. Self-deprecating in the extreme, Fisher leaves no skeleton in any closet.

If you’ve read any of Fisher’s transparently autobiographical novels, you’ve already read most of this book. But “Wishful Drinking” does offer up some new information, not only about making the “Star Wars” films, but also about Fisher’s marriage to Paul Simon . (She confirms what I’ve always suspected -that most of the songs on my favorite Simon album, “Hearts and Bones,” were written about her.) On their rekindled, post-divorce romance, she writes: “Samuel Johnson once said that remarrying. . . is ‘the triumph of hope over experience. So, for me, remarrying was the triumph of nostalgia over judgment.’ “

She’s unsparing, too, about her experiences in mental hospitals (although there are even more details in her novel “The Best Awful.”) Fisher names her bipolar mood extremes Rollicking Roy and Sediment Pam. “Roy. . . is the wild ride of a mood,”she writes. “Sediment Pam. . . stand on the shore and sobs. Pam stands for ‘piss and moan.’ One mood is the meal, and the next mood is the check.”

At the birth of her daughter, Billie, Fisher sent the following announcement:

Someone’s summered in my stomach
Someone’s fallen through my legs
To make an infant omelet
Simply scramble sperm and eggs

Are you starting to sense, as I did, that Fisher is the closest thing we have to Dorothy Parker in this era?

If “Wishful Drinking” felt more than a little self-indulgent at times, I was ready to forgive that. Fisher’s lack of self-pity is refreshing, and her obvious delight in the English language is infectious. As celebrity tell-alls go, this is one you can read without embarrassment. But if you’re frugal (like I usually am), you may want to get this at the library or wait for the paperback.


5 Comments so far
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Your description reminds me of Darkness Visible, William Styron’s memoir of his crushing depression. When I finished it, I thought, “Perfect. Short enough for a depressive’s attention span.” I agree. She is today’s Dorothy Parker, a true wit.

Comment by Marilyn

Marilyn -I hadn’t thought about the book’s length being in proporation to Fisher’s attention span, but that’s a good point. All I know is I walked past this three times in the Borders biogaraphy section before finally finding it; I was expecting a much thicker book.

Comment by Pat

I did see the live show ‘Wishful Drinking’ in LA and it was great!! I’ll have to read the book to compare, but if it is all taken from the show…. it is only around 2 hours of dialog… only I do not recall the sperm and egg birth announcement. She is random.I have done work on her home a few times and she is a gem. Generous and engaging… that open attitude in her book is who you meet… only with a hug and whatever you want in the frig…

Comment by Anonymous

I really love Carrie Fisher. She has turned her tragic life into wonderful prose. I only wish she had a movie career as good as her writing career. And the cover of this book is classic. Perhaps a good stocking stuffer?

Comment by PIPER

Anonymous, whoever you are- Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences with Ms. Fisher. I would love to see her stage show. It does not surprise me that she is so warm and engagin in person. I think that quality comes through in all her writing.Piper – Yes, it’d be a great stocking stuffer. And it would be nice to see her do some bigger, better film roles.

Comment by Pat

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