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Wishful Drinking
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December 2018: Geek Reads > Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fischer - 3.5-4 stars

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AsimovsZeroth (asimovszerothlaw) | 436 comments Wishful Drinking is the delightful memoir of Carrie Fischer and it is saturated with her particular brand of morbid (if somewhat barbed) sense humor. This little autobiography has a particularly unique perspective, as Fisher lost much of her long term memory to electroconvulsive therapy, after years of self-medicating bipolar disorder and PTSD. As a result, much of this volume focuses on the odd experience of having to reacquaint herself with her fame and piece together years of her personal life. Fischer is refreshingly blunt about her struggles with drug addiction, mental health and the complicated relationships she’s had with various partners and family members. She’s also amazingly direct about her own attention seeking behaviors, what it was like to be the child of “America’s Sweethearts” and the difficulty of keeping track of Hollywood’s somewhat incestuous relationships.

Of course, as she’s always grown up in this world, you can expect tons of celebrity anecdotes, which can come across as name dropping. However, when it comes to passages like the following, it becomes clear how impossible it would have been for the daughter of Eddie Fischer and Debbie Reynolds to do otherwise:

“Anyway, at a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

For those not aware, Cary Grant may have seemed to be the obvious choice, considering he had quite the love affair with LSD throughout his life, using it to find god and deal with his own trauma.

At times, her humor can come off as extremely abrasive and it doesn’t always hit it’s mark, as she was still openly emotional and embittered about certain painful events. However, I think this is also part of it’s charm. It’s Carrie Fischer, warts and all, working through her pain with an over-reliance on sarcasm and allowing everyone to see it. There is something beautiful in her willingness to showcase her dark side. A raw vulnerability that so few people manage in their autobiographies.

As this was originally written as a one woman stage show, I highly recommend picking up the audiobook copy, read by Fisher herself. It’s short (a little over 3 hours) and I don’t want to reveal too many passages or anecdotes, so I’ll simply end my review with one of my favorite passages:

“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.”

message 2: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 485 comments I remember this book and play. I think there was even a movie? I will have to look into the audio book. Nice review.

message 3: by NancyJ (last edited Dec 13, 2018 12:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5234 comments Wonderful review. I listened to the audiobook also and I wouldn't do it any other way. I love her delivery. It was funny but also quite honest and painful. I'm really sorry she's no longer with us.

I didn't remember the part about Cary Grant though.

I was surprised when I saw it on the first geek reads list. I guess everyone defines geek differently.

I think my favorite book of hers was Postcards from the Edge. The movie was pretty good too.

AsimovsZeroth (asimovszerothlaw) | 436 comments Diane - I had no idea there was a documentary as well. That's pretty interesting. I can certainly seeing this being even better being able to see her mannerisms and expression. I may watch it, should I ever run across a copy.

Nancy - Absolutely. When I saw this book in my local library, I knew that I certainly wasn't going to pick up the text version. Audio was definitely the only way to go for me. I haven't actually read any of her other books, but I think I will look up Postcards from the Edge and give it a try.

I agree with you particularly on the surprise that this was on the geek reads list. Actually, this is one of two books that I am bending my personal geek reads rules on. Everything else (except for a trashy romance between two geeky characters, a joke gift from a friend) is nonfiction and focused on science or science/tech history.

However, I decided that since technically, this was nonfiction about a geek icon, I'd let it slide. To be honest, I was just looking for an excuse. I've admired her for years due to her unapologetically blunt nature and vocal advocacy for awareness of mental health issues, but I've never made reading her books a priority. She really was a force of nature.

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5234 comments LiteraryMania wrote: "Diane - I had no idea there was a documentary as well. That's pretty interesting. I can certainly seeing this being even better being able to see her mannerisms and expression. I may watch it, shou..."

Duh, now I get it. "She" isn't a geek, she's a geek icon. It's because of all the star wars fans that idolized her (or fantasized about her as teenagers). BTW, I was really happy that she was included in the last star wars movie. It was a show of respect I thought.

AsimovsZeroth (asimovszerothlaw) | 436 comments NancyJ wrote: "LiteraryMania wrote: "Diane - I had no idea there was a documentary as well. That's pretty interesting. I can certainly seeing this being even better being able to see her mannerisms and expression..."

Absolutely! I think that a lot of people would have been furious if they'd failed to include her, including myself. She was a badass feminist icon and geeky pin-up for so many young men and women. I don't know about you, but I particularly enjoyed her passages about buying her own sex doll and the awkward interactions with male fans that thought it was appropriate to disclose their intense sexual fixations with her.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Wonderful review! I have been thinking about reading this book for a while. Maybe I will listen to the audiobook.

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