Hi, I’m Carrie Fisher and I’m an alcoholic
And this is a true story.
The start of Carrie Fisher’s first memoir certainly sets out her stall all too well. This is going to be a roller coaster ride through the highs and lows of her life told with self deprecating humour honed by telling much of the material covered in the book in a hit one woman show which premiered in 2006. The copy of the book I have is the 2008 first edition published by Simon and Schuster.
The daughter of film star Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, Carrie grew up in a far from normal household. Her father left when she was two when he started an affair with Elizabeth Taylor, who was also married at the time. Reynolds married again a couple of years later to a millionaire business man (who later lost all his money along with Reynolds’ due to bad business decisions and gambling) but he was Carrie and her brother Todd’s step father through most of their childhood. The book is quite open about this time in her life, how they only saw their mother occasionally, her step father even less often and her biological father about once a year. From the descriptions of the two children spending time with Reynolds’s clothes as they smelt of her when they couldn’t be with her and the times she was around spending as much time as possible in her presence they clearly missed having her in their lives.
By her mid to late teens Carrie had discovered alcohol and drugs, mainly marijuana at this stage and was what would become her life long addictions to both had started. This could have been a really dark book but the humorous way she addresses this along with her later mental health problems (she was bipolar) makes you laugh along with her even when she is describing really low points.
Okay, have it your way. I’m a drug addict.
You know how they say religion is the opiate of the masses? Well I took masses of opiates religiously.
or talking about her committal to a mental hospital a couple of years after giving birth to her daughter.
I was invited to go to a mental hospital. And you know, you don’t want to be rude, so you go. Okay, I know what you must be thinking – but this is a very exclusive invitation.
I mean, hello – have you ever been invited to a mental hospital?
So you see, it’s exclusive. It’s sort of like an invitation to the White House – only you meet a better class of people in the mental hospital.
The reader is introduced to Fishers fragile mental state right at the beginning of the book as she discusses the electroconvulsive therapy she has undergone and the effects it has had on her, including sporadic memory loss but she has also gained a re-awakening of things she has done which had been lost in the fog of drugs, drink and mental imbalance. This enabled her to create the stage show which led to this book.
Yes there is a section about Star Wars, but it’s quite a short one, and surprisingly nothing about her later career as one of the top Hollywood script doctors where she fixed scripts for various TV shows and films, including working for George Lucas. She got the role as Princess Leia at just nineteen years old and you get the impression that she is slightly irked that Lucas owns the image rights to the character including a throw away wry comment that every time she looks in the mirror she owes him a dollar. All those t-shirts, posters, dolls, figurines (large small and Lego) earn money for Lucasfilms not Carrie Fisher and it still seems odd to her that Leia became a sex symbol ‘while being chained to a giant slug’.
One afternoon in Berkeley I found myself walking into a shop that sold rocks and gems.
“Oh my God aren’t you…” the salesman behind the counter exclaimed.
And before he could go any further. I modestly said “Yes, I am”
“Oh my God! I thought about you every day from when I was twelve to when I was twenty-two.”
And instead of asking what happened at twenty-two, I said “Every Day?”
He shrugged and said “Well four times a day.”
Welcome to the land of too much information.
In the book there is a lot of information and a lot of it is dark but there is never too much and it is a great read while she takes us through her fascinating life.