I’ve really been trying to make an effort in 2018 to read books I already own. Currently the amount of books I own but haven’t read, including in audio and e-book, numbers around 221. faintingviolet gave me this book in the CBR book exchange in December 2016, two weeks before Carrie Fisher died. Even though I was beyond excited to finally have it in my possession, since it had been on my TBR for years and I’d never gotten around to it, I just couldn’t make myself read it. I was still too sad that she was gone. But I’m now in a place where instead of reminding me of what we lost when she died, her words remind me of what we had when she was here. That sounds cheesy but I don’t care, fuck you. I’ll feel what I want.
Carrie Fisher was feisty and inappropriate and honest and self-reflective, and her writing reflects that. And though she goes into her experiences as a child of famous parents, and how that messed with her sense of reality, she is never self-pitying (she recalls a time watching her mother kiss a man in a film, and feeling embarrassment not for the character, but for her mother, that it didn’t go well). Stints in mental hospitals, the father of her one year old daughter leaving her for a man, her drug and alcohol addictions, her bipolar diagnosis, her PTSD from having one of her best friends die in her bed while he was sleeping next to her . . . all of it she takes and weighs and finds a way to put it in perspective, to laugh about it. The whole book can basically be summed up when she writes, “If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”
I’m afraid I quite inundated my GR feed with quotes while reading, and that was me holding back. I probably could have quoted something on every page if I really wanted to be gauche about it.
Wishful Drinking feels very much like a book adapted from a stage show, and that has both benefits and drawbacks. It has the benefit of Carrie’s energy and her wit, and the structure of the show’s premise itself, which was Carrie remembering her life again after going through ECT(electroconvulsive therapy) and having many of her memories disappear or hide away for a while. The stream of consciousness style is infectious and it’s hard not to read the book all in one go. But at the same time, its messiness also distracts a little in written form, which normally has more of a sense of structure to it, more detail, more length. It’s a very short book. She also repeats phrases and words a lot, as if she were speaking instead of writing. She is very fond of the word “anyway,” and frequently starts sentences with “but” and “and”, which I don’t mind, but she did it a lot, and I think that is a tool best used sparingly.
But in terms of content, this book was wonderful. My only complaint about it was that I wanted more.
And because I guess I just can’t resist, more quotes:
“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
x x x
“Anyway, George comes up to me the first day of filming and he takes one look at the dress and says, ‘You can’t wear a bra under that dress.’
So, I say, ‘Okay, I’ll bite. Why?’
And he says, ‘Because… there’s no underwear in space.’
I promise you this is true, and he says it with such conviction too! Like he had been to space and looked around and he didn’t see any bras or panties or briefs anywhere.
Now, George came to my show when it was in Berkeley. He came backstage and explained why you can’t wear your brassiere in other galaxies, and I have a sense you will be going to outer space very soon, so here’s why you cannot wear your brassiere, per George. So, what happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t- so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make a fantastic obit- so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”
x x x
“Right after I got sober (the first time), an interviewer asked me if I was happy, and I said,”Among other things.”
Happy is one of the many things I’m likely to be over the course of a day and certainly over the course of a lifetime. But I think if you have the expectation that you’re going to be happy throughout your life–more to the point, if you have a need to be comfortable all the time–well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic.”
x x x
“Let’s say something happens, and from a certain slant maybe it’s tragic, even a little bit shocking. Then time passes and you go to the funny slant, and now that very same thing can no longer do you any harm.”
x x x
“I mean, that’s at least in part why I ingested chemical waste – it was a kind of desire to abbreviate myself. To present the CliffNotes of the emotional me, as opposed to the twelve-column read.
I used to refer to my drug use as putting the monster in the box. I wanted to be less, so I took more – simple as that. Anyway, I eventually decided that the reason Dr. Stone had told me I was hypomanic was that he wanted to put me on medication instead of actually treating me. So I did the only rational thing I could do in the face of such as insult – I stopped talking to Stone, flew back to New York, and married Paul Simon a week later.”
x x x
“There are a couple of reasons why I take comfort in being able to put all this in my own vernacular and present it to you. For one thing, because then I’m not completely alone with it. And for another, it gives me a sense of being in control of the craziness. Now this is a delusion, but it’s MY delusion and I’m sticking with it. It’s sort of like: I have problems but problems don’t have me.”
Read Harder Challenge 2018: A celebrity memoir.