In remarkably little time, I read Carrie Fisher’s new memoir, Wishful Drinking. It seemed silly to first do a “What I’m Reading” post only to follow up with the review a few days later; and when you consider the fact that I was only reading it in twenty minute bursts on my commute, I probably could have read it in a single afternoon if I wanted.
Breezy travel fodder is just what Wishful Drinking is. In a plain but engaging tone, Fisher candidly, intimately recounts her Hollywood childhood, her rocket-powered rise to stardom, her tempestuous love life, and her ongoing battles with addiction and mental illness. Her writing is succinct and honest, which makes parts of it alternately gut-bustingly funny and heart-breakingly sad; sometimes a single line elicits both emotions. As Fisher writes, “if my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”
The book is a compendium to her one-woman show of the same name which is currently playing on Broadway at Studio 54. By compendium, I mean that this is, I imagine, virtually the complete script for her show. I say that because it’s written as such. It reads like an extended monologue. There are even pictures and diagrams, which I recognized from press coverage, that she uses as sight gags in the show. This is both a pro and a con. It’s a con because it means that beyond the unexpected tangent a live audience can take her on, Wishful Drinking the book is identical to Wishful Drinking the show. However, that’s a pro, because I paid less than $20 to read her act rather than over $50 to sit in the nosebleeds of Studio 54 to see it.
Fisher’s writing is effortless and conversational, which demonstrates just what a talent she has. The best parts, perhaps not surprisingly, are her remembrances of making the Star Wars films. For all the justifiable lamenting she may do about her identity, her career, and her legacy being forever tied to the character of Princess Leia, it’s clear from the caliber of her writing and its laugh-a-minute quality in this section that she has not only accepted it, but secretly, quietly enjoys it.