July 19, 2014

Book review: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

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Finally, after four hit novels, Carrie Fisher comes clean (well, sort of ) with the crazy truth that is her life in her first-ever memoir. In Wishful Drinking, adapted from her one-woman stage show, Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of "Hollywood in-breeding," come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars, and become a cultural icon and bestselling action figure at the age of nineteen.

Intimate, hilarious, and sobering, Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?). It's an incredible tale: the child of Hollywood royalty -- Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher -- homewrecked by Elizabeth Taylor, marrying (then divorcing, then dating) Paul Simon, having her likeness merchandized on everything from Princess Leia shampoo to PEZ dispensers, learning the father of her daughter forgot to tell her he was gay, and ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

To fulfill the "Biography or Memoir" square in the Reading Outside the Box challenge, I browsed through the popular titles under that category. The ones about politicians and business people didn't interest me. There were a couple from athletes that looked somewhat amusing, but I ultimately passed on them too. Then I saw Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher. PRINCESS LEIA! She's even in her Princess Leia costume on the cover! Yup, I'm a big Star Wars geek, so I snapped it up.

From the first page, I found this book fascinating, but not necessarily in a good way. It was like not being able to take your eyes off a traffic accident. In a nutshell, Carrie Fisher was doomed from birth to lead a crazy life. Born to celebrities Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, she never had a chance of having a "normal" life. She compares her parents to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, with Elizabeth Taylor playing the role of Angelina Jolie (Eddie Fisher left his family for Taylor). It makes you wonder how Angelina and Brad's kids are going to turn out.

Every anecdote in this book reflects the product of Carrie Fisher's "Hollywood inbreeding", as she calls it. They were funny at times but also sad. I felt sorry for her as I kept reading. No wonder she had a problem with drug addiction. No wonder she underwent electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

In the end, I got an eye opening look at the person who I've known only as Princess Leia. For one thing, she's a lot funnier than her Princess Leia persona, that's for sure. On the other hand, the book also taught me that Hollywood is not a business that I would want my kids to ever get into. Parents, don't let your kids go into show biz! Just say no to acting. Oh, and I'll never watch Star Wars the same way again.

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