Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher has been many things in her life: bestselling novelist, famous actress, famous child of an actress, metal-bikini pinup, recovering addict. Wishful Drinking is a prose decanting of her one-woman stage show of the same name; I haven't seen the latter, though I suspect it's shorter than the book is. (Since even just reading this short book aloud would make for a very long evening of theater.)

I read this book because it has one of the world's most perfect pull-quotes, which the New York Times Book Review smartly mentioned in their review. George Lucas wouldn't let Fisher wear a bra under that blousy white outfit from Star Wars, because -- as the director explained -- "there's no underwear in space." (The full details are on p.88; Fisher complied but had to use gaffer's tape instead, which seems to have led to some competition among the technical crew to be the ones to aid her with her wardrobe.) Lucas either was very devious -- in devising an insane but superficially plausible reason to have a bouncier, jigglier leading lady to tantalize his audiences -- or very stupid, and I'm sure fan arguments over that are raging somewhere on the 'Net.

Fisher is an engaging writer, though it's probably even more entertaining to see her tell these stories than it is to read them, and she's clear-eyed about how messed up she was in her addict years. She also glancingly touches on the perennial issue of growing up rich, famous, and privileged in Hollywood, which always tantalizes the 99% of us who weren't.

It's a short book, and it's not a full memoir by any means; she covers the high points of her life, as she sees them, but it's more about "how Carrie Fisher came to be so messed up and how she found her way back out again, more or less." So her mother, Debbie Reynolds, is in it here and there, and so is her husband Paul Simon, and her other husband, who left her for a man, and the guy who died unexpected in her bed a few years back, and so on.

It's a quick read, and not an embarrassing one, as the memoirs of a thousand other stars-of-the-hour have been. It's not a book for the ages, but it's a fine book for an day or so.

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