Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Review: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher


Carrie Fisher is what we call nowadays a celebuspawn (think Rumer Willis and Peaches Geldof). Except that being born in the 1950s meant she got to become Elizabeth Taylor's stepdaughter and spent quality time with Cary Grant. Even the Jolie-Pitts would never be able to top that. These stories alone made her memoir, Wishful Drinking, a book I really wanted to read.

The problem with Wishful Drinking is that it's mostly the material from Carrie Fisher's one-woman show by the same name, and not really an in-depth, tell-all autobiography. It's a lot shorter and breezier you would expect from a book that covers not only an unusual Hollywood childhood and coming of age but also two marriages (to Paul Simon and to a gay man), the Star Wars trilogy and Fisher's years of struggling with addiction and mental illness.

I can't help it: My favorite part was family saga and stories about Carrie Fisher's parents, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and long parade of step-parents. Ancient Hollywood gossip is infinitely better than TMZ and Perez Hilton, especially when told by a very witty and often hilarious insider. The Star Wars part felt a bit rushed and too obligatory: What did she wear under the white dress? (gaffer's tape), how did she feel about the iconic hairstyle? (it made her look fat). And then there are the heartbreaks, Paul Simon and the illness, taking up about a third of the book and in some places a bit glossed over.

I can't help feeling that Carrie Fisher and her story deserve better than a quick read in one sitting, which is all the book provides. Her first novel, the fictionalized autobiography Postcards From The Edge was much more satisfying.

7 comments:

  1. I thoroughly agree! Carrie Fisher's life story is one of the few (if not the only) Hollywood/Celebrity books I'd actually stand in line to buy.

    She's a transitional figure, bridging old Hollywood and the new Stars Gone Wild crowd, and I'd love to read her recollections and thoughts on both. It's a disappointment to hear that this latest book glosses over and hurries through all the things that make her status as a public figure potentially so interesting.

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  2. It's almost word-for-word her show, which seemed a bit thin on the stage but at least had her performing it. You get the sense that there's a much longer book in her waiting to get out

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  3. Nathan and Tom have beat me to the punch on my first comments. I heard her interviewed recently (part of the book junket, no doubt), and have to say I loved the tidbit about getting a call from Cary Grant because her mom wanted to send her a person who had been "hooked," and then gotten off, LSD. There's a Cary to Carrie that bridges the Hollywoods.

    Ancient Hollywood gossip? Guilty nuggets of gold; I remember sneaking off with my parents' Kenneth Anger...(Hollywood Babylon)...

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  4. Nathan, I agree. Can't think of many other celebs who have such a rich story to tell. Maybe one day Suri will have something to say, but I'm not holding my breath for that one.

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  5. Tom, I'm so jealous you got to see her show. From the interview clips I saw, she has such a wonderful presence.

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  6. ScentScelf, apparently, both Carrie's parents got Cary Grant to call her about the drug use on different occasions. Can you even imagine?

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  7. I love her. she seems so down to earth considering her pedigree. i just saw her in the re-make "the woman" with Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, Candace Bergin, Bette Midler, and Cloris Leachman. Bette and Cloris were hysterical. Go rent it! This is my movie review!!! LOL

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