Friday, February 10, 2012

Carrie Fisher Scores With Shockaholic

Carrie Fisher has never been impressed with fame and celebrity. She grew up with two famous parents, actress/entertainer Debbie Reynolds and singer/actor Eddie Fisher, and appeared as Princess Leia in the first three Star Wars films.

When you grow up surrounded by it, there is no allure. And this is one of the most refreshing things about Fisher and the underlying theme in her book Shockaholic, the follow up to her well-received autobiography and one-woman show, Wishful Drinking.

Shockaholic takes its name from electroconvulsive therapy.

Fisher endured it to help with a myriad of unresolved issues: drug abuse, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder. She is also matter of fact when describing the treatment, which isn’t as horrible as movies would have us believe, but does indeed zap the mind of the patient’s memory.

The book is also a vehicle for Fisher to document her best and sometimes funniest recollections while she still has them stored in her memory bank. Most of the time, it's all over the place, leaving you with a true taste of something witty, urgent, and hilarious.

She also shares stories from her childhood, including her parents’ divorce and subsequent marriages to Elizabeth Taylor and millionaire shoe tycoon Harry Karl. Her stories about Karl, in particular, are laugh out loud funny because Karl, who inherited his fortune and shoe business empire from his late father, was an odd duck with a penchant for sleeping with no clothes on from the waist down.

What makes that fact especially memorable is Fisher remembrance of Karl's non-stop flatulence. He also had an uncanny ability to lose not only his own fortune, but Reynolds’ fortune as well. Yes, he lost his shorts.

Some might be surprised to find very little about Star Wars. 

With so much Star Wars on the market, it seems too much to hope for more. Fisher doesn't go into much detail about filming Star Wars despite the dust cover art. What she does do, however, is provide a glimpse of how notoriety can impact your life.

Even for Fisher, it was an abrupt change. Instead of being the daughter of famous people, she became famous. She found it amusing in many ways.

She also doesn't share much about her relationship, marriage and divorce from singer Paul Simon. But she does share a fascinating account of a blind date she went on with Senator Chris Dodd in which she held her own against a rather randy Senator Ted Kennedy. The strangeness is priceless.

But what makes Shockaholic, and Fisher herself, so engaging is her self-mocking nature. From her weight gain to her belief that her house was haunted by a ghost (after her platonic friend died next to her in bed), it’s almost too much to believe, and yet it’s all very real.

Fisher also describes reconciling with Taylor, her former stepmother, as well as her own odd friendship with Michael Jackson. Fisher and her daughter not only visited Neverland Ranch, but also spent a Christmas with Jackson and his children.

Perhaps the most touching part of Fisher’s story however, is in her recounting of her father’s decline and eventual death. Although she barely saw Eddie Fisher growing up, she did reach out to him late in his life. When his health declined, it was she who oversaw his care and ensured his final days were spent in comfort and dignity.

The real Carrie Fisher is someone you'll be glad to meet.

Put aside the image of Fisher in the infamous gold metal Star Wars bikini. Those days are far, far away from who she is. Instead, you'll meet a solid actress and brilliant writer.

In fact, it's all too easy to forget this is the woman who co-wrote and executive produced These Old Broads (2001), which starred Reynolds as well as Taylor, Joan Collins and Shirley MacLaine. By this time Reynolds, a truly classy lady, had not only forgiven Taylor for stealing away husband Eddie Fisher in one of Hollywood’s biggest love triangle scandals, but had also forged an easy friendship with Taylor.

Fisher is also the author of the semi-autobiographical Postcards From The Edge, which was made into a feature film starring Meryl Streep and MacLaine. And if you find you like Shockaholic, definitely dive into Wishful Drinking. It gives much more insight into Fisher's childhood.

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher Zaps 8.7 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

After all this time, it seems Fisher has discovered what she’s truly great at. She is a gifted writer and never short at seeing the comedy in it all. The book is well written, nicely paced and engaging from start to finish. You'll likely finish the story, despite its short length, feeling like Fisher is an old friend who just called to catch up.

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher is available at Barnes & Noble. You can also find Shockaholic on Amazon or download it on iBooks.

Personally, I think the best choice is to opt for the audiobook on iTunes, which catches Fisher reading her own work. Her husky voice and impeccable sense of timing add even more color to her craft. No one else could possibly deliver it better.
blog comments powered by Disqus