Friday, May 22, 2015

Carrie Fisher: more than just Princess Leia

Carrie Fisher is best known as Princess Leia from a little film called Star Wars. But did you know that she is also an accomplished novelist, screenwriter and mental health advocate. Recently, I can able to get a few of her books and I will review them briefly.

Postcards from the Edge is her best known book as it was also made into a blockbuster film which starred Meryl Streep and Shirley Maclaine. It is the story of Suzanne Vale, an actress from an acting family who finds herself in a rehab facility after overdosing on Percodan. As she completes rehab, she must find a way to restart her life that she says “I narrate a life I’m reluctant to live.” This story was inspired by Ms. Fisher’s own struggles with her drug addiction and recovery. The story explores the question who someone is and why he/she does or doesn’t do things. It had some great insights that caught my attention. 

Wishing Drinking is her first memoir was she explores her life was it was entangled in the greatest scandal of Hollywood. Her childhood began as the child of America’s Sweethearts: Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Her playgrounds were studios and backlots. She discusses her highs as her brief relationship and marriage to Paul Simon. When she writes about him, you can tell she really loved him but it just didn’t work out. And her lows as life with a philandering father and her growing drug addiction. She discusses the events which lead to her diagnosis of manic-depression. She has learned to deal with the manic episodes which leads her on a “wild ride of a mood” and the depression which leads her to “piss and moan.”  I love that Ms. Fisher is very candid and doesn’t mince words. She says it as she sees it.

The Best Awful There Is is the sequel to Postcards from the Edge as Suzanne Vale must deal with the revelation that the father of her child as left her for another man. She must pick of the pieces and learn to live with new situation. It soon becomes too much and she is institutionalized as manic-depressed. Ms. Fisher once again draws inspiration from her own experiences and brings a touching and sometimes hilarious fashion.

Shockaholic is her second memoir in which she discusses her life in recovery, her continuing struggles with sobriety due to her bipolar disorder and the reconciliation with her father near the end of his life. She calls herself a “fairly intelligent person who does stupid things. Incredibly stupid things.” She is brutally honest and pokes fun at her Hollywood pedigree.

I love Ms. Fisher’s brutal honesty and while her humor is a little too vulgar for my tastes, I did find some of her comments hilarious. I also found her to be deeply insightful and gives such an honest look of what life is often like with a mental illness. She often poked fun at the comments about her looks since everyone expects her to look like Princess Leia even at the age of 58. I think she is still very beautiful and looks wonderful.