Audio Review: WISHFUL DRINKING by Carrie Fisher (Simon & Schuster/Audible)

FisherC-WishfulDrinkingA bizarre memoir, which doesn’t do what it said on the tin…

In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher tells the true and intoxicating story of her life with inimitable wit. Born to celebrity parents, she was picked to play a princess in a little movie called Star Wars when only 19 years old. “But it isn’t all sweetness and light sabers.”

Alas, aside from a demanding career and her role as a single mother (not to mention the hyperspace hairdo), Carrie also spends her free time battling addiction, weathering the wild ride of manic depression and lounging around various mental institutions. It’s an incredible tale – from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to marrying (and divorcing) Paul Simon, from having the father of her daughter leave her for a man, to ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

This is memoir is… rather mad for the most part (certainly the beginning). Not always in a good way, sadly. Wishful Drinking was not what I’d expected, nor as I’d hoped. In some ways, this should have been expected — for the first 20% of the audiobook, Fisher tells us about the ECT she had, which basically destroyed most of her memories. (Which, when you think about it, makes it rather strange, the urge to write a memoir, then…) Fisher basically offers a three-hour, acerbic take on her family and substance abuse. It sometimes veers into glib (rather than risque), and the humour falls flat too often. I really don’t know what to think about this audiobook/memoir.

Like many people, I’m sure, I came to this hoping for more memories of the making of Star Wars, Postcards from the Edge (the book and the movie), and various other notable moments from Fisher’s storied and, let’s be honest, vicariously fascinating life. Shot to stardom at a very young age (she was 19 when cast as Princess Leia), she descended into a cycle of substance abuse that derailed her career and strained her various and changing relationships. When you combine her alcoholism and drug use with the fact that she was diagnosed as bipolar (at 24), there was little chance that she would lead a ‘normal’ life.

Fisher talks about alcoholism, and the various programs that have helped her along the way — she’s clear about and grateful for how she was helped and who she was helped by. As a result, the book finishes very self-reflective and calm, as well as informative about alcoholism and drug addiction.

We don’t get much on the movie projects that put her on the map — not to mention gave birth to Leia dolls, Pez heads, and more — nor on the interesting people she’s got to know along the way (or married). They’re mentioned, true, and there’s some acerbic wit deployed and amusing, cutting observations. But a lot more of this book is about her personal and family life, which can charitably be described as a Greek Tragedy of Crazy…

A disappointment, then. There were a few laughs. It’s well-performed (Fisher remains pretty badass) and the audio production is very good.

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