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Wishful Drinking Hardcover – December 2, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Fisher has fictionalized her life in several novels (notably Postcards from the Edge), but her first memoir (she calls it a really, really detailed personals ad) proves that truth is stranger than fiction. There are more juicy confessions and outrageously funny observations packed in these honest pages than most celebrity bios twice the length. After describing how she underwent electroshock therapy for her manic depression, Fisher then sorts through her life as her memories return. She predicts that by the end of the book, you'll feel so close to me that you'll want to divorce me. At one point, this daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher (one an icon, the other an arm piece to icons) hilariously diagrams her family tree of Hollywood marriages and remarriages to make sure her daughter's potential date is not a relative. Revealing that at 15 she got a vibrator for Christmas from her mother, she writes, You might be thinking that a lot of the stories I'm telling you are over the top... but you can't imagine what I'm leaving out. With acerbic precision and brash humor, she writes of struggling with and enjoying aspects of her alcoholism, drug addiction and mental breakdowns. Her razor-sharp observations about celebrity, addiction and sexuality demand to be read aloud to friends. (Dec.)
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"Fisher makes each crushing tragedy hilarious."-- "People" (4 out of 4 stars) "Fisher is a language obsessive, a nimble verbal acrobat who puns and somersaults around a page with glee...If you are a fan of Fisher's fiction, a follower of her mental illness or simply a looky-loo stargazer curious about her Hollywood heritage, "Wishful Drinking" will likely make you laugh." -- Slate.com "[Fisher] has a talent for lacerating insight that masquerades as carefree self-deprecation...The effect, ultimately, is extraordinarily painful while being extremely entertaining...[S]he's done her best to make sense of it all, and throughout, her humor has held up. In her own defiant manner, she's fought the good fight." -- "The Los Angeles Times" "She's still funny as hell...Her stories bubble, bounce, and careen with an energy...Get someone to read this rollicking book aloud to you." -- "Entertainment Weekly" "Fisher makes each crushing tragedy hilarious." -- "People" (4 out of 4 stars) "[T]here are also sparkling bons mots bespeaking [Carrie's] quirky intelligence and sweetness. Spoken like a true princess." -- "Elle" "There are more juicy confessions and outrageously funny observations packed in these honest pages than most celebrity bios twice the length...With acerbic precisions and brash humor, she writes of struggling with and enjoying aspects of her alcoholism, drug addiction and mental breakdowns. Her razor-sharp observations about celebrity, addiction and sexuality demand to be read aloud to friends." -- "Publishers Weekly" (starred review) "Clearly, you should buy this book....she has expert comic timing and, perhaps more importantly, better stories than most drug addicts....Fisher is unafraid to write, brutally and vividly." -- "New York Post" "Fisher, unlike most celebrities (especially ones spawned from other celebrities) can actually write, and..."Wishful Drinking", though an extremely short book, is super salacious and entertaining." -- Jezebel.com
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Which is a way of saying that the giddy, girly style of writing in the first chapter almost drove me insane. Nothing but my reluctance to abandon a book kept me going. But then a miracle happened and the writing (while informal and still WAY too full of whimsy) settled down. By the second chapter, I was glued to Fisher's weird family diagram (parents, sibling, spouses, step-parents, half-siblings, step-siblings, actresses, actors, singers, agents, artists, beauty queens, and a respected Chinese-American author) and laughing hysterically. Welcome to Hollywood.
This is not a book you read to find out "what happened." Unless you've been living in a cave, you know all about Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher and Carrie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and Cary Grant and Paul Simon. Their lives may not have been any more troubled or eventful than many private citizens, but they were lived in full view of the public. Old style Hollywood with its carefully groomed stars and jealously guarded publicity may be a thing of the past, but the celebrity machine is still cranking away even more furiously than when Eddie Fisher caused an international scandal by dumping his wholesome wife and marrying Liz Taylor (who soon dumped HIM and married Richard Burton.) Who cares? A lot of people, judging from the ink that was wasted on reporting every detail.
Fisher herself grew up the daughter of two celebrities and became one herself at the tender age of 19 when she played Princess Leia in the Star Wars series. She married a famous singer and then an agent, had a daughter, wrote books, and performed one-woman shows. She also abused drugs and alcohol, attended AA meetings, was in and out of mental hospitals, was diagnosed as bi-polar, and underwent electroshock therapy. You could say she's lived a "full life."
I'm disinterested in the entertainment industry and in celebrities in general, and yet Fisher is an appealing woman. She comes across as brutally honest, especially about her own problems and mistakes. You get the impression of someone who has been through so much craziness that she has both developed an inner toughness and been stripped of the need to hide her defects and weaknesses.
I read this book or a version of it years ago and remembered being impressed. I was happy to find the Kindle version and enjoyed re-reading it. I think it's a valuable story. No, most of us didn't grow up in Beverly Hills, but most of our lives have been touched by addiction and mental illness. In the end, this isn't a story of a celebrity. It's a story of a woman and how she's dealt with her problems.
I'm glad I did.
"Postcards from the Edge" was my only prior impression of the relationship these two women had. This memoir paints a very different picture. I am sorry the world has lost these two brilliant and beautiful souls, but I am glad for them both that they still have each other.
This gives some new enlightenment to my trying to understand what he is going through. And ms fisher made me laugh. Which we need so much. Thank you.
We chose this for our book club and it was a light, fast read and got us all talking about mothers and daughters, bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Carrie Fisher has a way of making all these topics less scary so you can talk about them.