Carrie Fisher makes me laugh.
I’m sorry she’s bi-polar (she blames her brother Todd for hogging “all the sanity available in our freak family.”) And I’m sorry she’s still coping with the results of electroconvulsive therapy (a.k.a. shock treatments to you and me.) But let’s face it — funny is in her bones.
Not that you didn’t know that already, especially if you devoured her first novel Postcards From The Edge, or saw the movie with Meryl Streep playing Carrie and Shirley MacLaine playing her celebrated mom.
In her new Simon & Shuster book, Wishful Drinking, inspired by her new one-woman stage show, Carrie shares some wry-on-the-rocks memories of her everyday can-this-be-normal?-existence, growing up in Hollywood with famous parents Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher – she still clearly adores her mother but has serious and understandable reservations about her father — her unexpected rise to fame in Star Wars (“… George Lucas ruined my life. And I mean that in the nicest possible way”) and her somewhat dubious choice of husbands, including Paul Simon. (“We were the same size,” she notes. “I used to say to him, ‘Don’t stand next to me at the party – people will think we’re salt and pepper shakers.’”)
Her adventures with her mother are in themselves worth the price of the book. When Todd shoots himself (with a blank, fortunately) in her bedroom, Debbie calls a cab to take him to the hospital — not an ambulance – and calls Carrie with instructions. “I need you to get to the house before the police to let them in,” Debbie tells her, “but I also need you to go through the house and hide all the guns and bullets and – what else … Oh yes! I need you to flush your brother’s marijuana down the toilet. So you think you can do this, dear?”
When Debbie suspects that Carrie might overdose on LSD if she doesn’t get counseling, she doesn’t call a doctor. She calls Cary Grant. When Carrie jets to London to attend one of Debbie’s weddings (“I don’t like to miss any of my parents’ weddings”) and fails to answer Debbie’s phone calls, her mother sends Ava Gardner to go to her hotel “to make sure I’m not dead.”
“Not that it matters,” she writes, “but my mother is not a lesbian! She’s just a really, really bad heterosexual.”
The woman destined to rule worldwide box office as Princess Leia grew up in a house with eight little pink refrigerators (“you know, in case Snow White and the seven dwarfs came over,”) three swimming pools (“you know, in case two broke,”) and her mother’s magical wardrobe closet (“which I always thought of as the Church Of Latter Day Debbie”) into which her mother would disappear, only to emerge some time later as Movie Star Debbie Reynolds.
“If my life wasn’t funny,” notes the unsinkable Ms. Fisher, “it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”
And touching. And challenging. And oddly inspirational. And despite (or because of) all her Wishful Drinking, this laugh-out-loud mini-memoir is more than worth waiting for.