book review: wishful drinking by carrie fisher

Wishful Drinking is an autobiographical humor book by American actress and author Carrie Fisher, published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. Fisher’s book was based on her one-woman stage show, which she developed with writer/director Joshua Ravetch.

Category:  Autobiography/Memoir

Publisher’s Summary:  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.

Review:  Carrie Fisher is a mother f’ing goddess.  She’s so refreshing and every word I read made me more sad about the fact that she’s gone.  As someone who struggles with mental illness, her candid take on what she’s been through and her open admission to undergoing electroconvulsive therapy made me feel more accepted, more welcome in the world.  I haven’t undergone that particular treatment but I think the more people who are open about their mental health struggles and what they do to help them, the better it is when it comes to fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness as a whole.

I also thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Carrie’s family and her life growing up.  As the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she grew up in a world that few people can imagine, and the little insights she gives into it were interesting.  Particular highlights are her describing what she and her brother used to do when playing in her mother’s closet, the story of when her brother accidentally shot himself in the leg, or the story of when her mother came up with the idea for her to have her stepfather’s child because it would have nice eyes.

And all of the Star Wars stories, oh, all of the Star Wars stories.  She tells the best Star Wars stories, like the story of the famous hairstyle or the various merchandise that she became or how George Lucas told her she couldn’t wear a bra under the white dress she wore in the first movie because there’s no underwear in space.

Her reflection on her substance abuse and drug addiction problems was poignant and honest, and I appreciated that so much.  I have never suffered from these issues, but the psychological issues that go along with them are things that I have faced and again, hearing someone who has faced the same things talk about them is just so important to me.  Her descriptions of how she processes things is just so similar to mine that it’s almost frightening, but hearing them is almost validation of my processes, and validation is kind of a thing I search for.

Recommendation:  Carrie Fisher is a tremendous writer, and this book is full of wit, wisdom, and honesty.  Her candid talk about her mental illness and struggles means the world to me as someone who has a mental illness, and I relate to her more than I can say.  It’s a wonderful read that makes me miss her more than I have in months.  I highly recommend this.

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