I was really saddened by Carrie Fisher’s death last month. It was so sudden, and she was only 60. And we had just seen her in Rogue One and Star Wars: A New Hope.
I was especially sad for my husband, who grew up with the Star Wars movies. Having suffered through the last three, he’s in a kind of heaven right now with the latest two being so good.
I actually didn’t grow up with the Star Wars movies (I’m the right age, we just weren’t a movie-going family). There are women who can say that her portrayal of Princess Leia changed how they viewed women and themselves. While I can’t say Carrie Fisher shaped my self-image as a girl, I can say she’s one of the best parts of the movies. Science fiction movies in the 70s and 80s were not kind to women, so her portrayal of Leia as a strong, independent, powerful woman matters quite a bit.
But many people admire Fisher not for her role as Leia, but for her honesty and humor as a writer and her advocacy for those with mental illnesses. What I’ve always appreciated about Carrie Fisher is that she always seems to be such a strong individual.
Wishful Drinking, published in 2008, is Fisher’s first of three memoirs, and was based on a one-woman play she began performing in 2006. It focuses on her childhood as the child of Hollywood royalty, and her experiences with Star Wars, her relationship with Paul Simon, and her struggles with addiction, among other things. It’s a light, humorous book considering the sometimes-serious subject matter.
This book reminded me of Amy Schumer’s memoir published in 2016. It’s not the best-written memoir I’ve read, but it’s funny and heartfelt, and you really like the person you’re reading about.
My favorite part of this book was Fisher describing the famous Star Wars hairdo and why she had to go braless in the movie (a decision which my husband sincerely appreciates). This quote was cited often after Fisher died, so you may have seen it already, but I still can’t help sharing it.
He [George Lucas] came backstage and explained why you can’t wear your brassiere in other galaxies… what happens is you go space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t – so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit – so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.
My other favorite part was Fisher describing her series of encounters with classic actor Cary Grant. He calls her one day at the behest of Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, because Reynolds is worried that Fisher is addicted to acid. Because who doesn’t have a bit of a crush on Cary Grant?
Cary Grant, well… he just killed me. I mean, I was completely blown away by him. He had it all – an easygoing class, quiet confidence, wit – all in this beyond-handsome package. So when the phone rang and a familiar voice informed me that he was Cary Grant – even a Cary Grant that was gonna maybe give me a “just say no” drug lecture – well, initially I was, in fact, totally tongue-tied.
I found this book incredibly hard to summarize. It’s a short read, too short in fact, and anyone wanting to know more about Carrie Fisher will enjoy it.