Right, we’d wanted to read Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking (2008) for some time. Since her sudden passing aged 60 in December 2017, the actress and writer has remained amongst us.
And this autobiographical, self-deprecating, and rather amusing work was adapted from the eponymous one-woman stage show.
If you like sarcastic humour then this SOB is definitely for you, as Fisher was a sardonic master. But the book is also crammed full of serious issues, ranging from chronic mental health struggles to marital infidelity.
Wishful Drinking: The Book!
There’s a sense of gallows humour about Fisher’s book right from the off.
Carrie Fisher’s childhood was highly unusual, growing up as the daughter to superstars Eddie Fisher (1928-2010) and Debbie Reynolds (1932-2016).
Their marriage didn’t last long as the pair got whisked away in Hollywood excess, seemingly marrying anything in sight through a protracted love triangle times by 30.
“[Eddie Fisher] meets a blond, cute, perky, fun, little actress. Sound familiar? No, it’s not Debbie again. It’s a tribute to Debbie. It’s Connie Stevens! They meet and have Joely Fisher, from sitcoms, and Tricia Fisher, from New York.
Oh, wait a minute—did Eddie forget to marry Connie?
He did! He forgot to marry her. But eventually they remember. So they get married. But as many people know, legal sex is just shite compared to that premarital stuff that so many couples have in cars, so they divorce. But don’t worry, Eddie’s not alone for long because now he meets and marries Miss Louisiana! She’s three years older than me and she calls me ‘Dear,’ which I love. Now I thought this relationship would go on and on and on because Louisiana is in her early twenties and Eddie is in his late fifties, so she had so many years to devote to him. But what do you think happens?
Yup, they divorce. I was stunned. But don’t worry he isn’t alone for long. ‘Cause now he meets and marries this really love woman named Betty Lin.”
Fisher obviously held resentment about these ridiculous shenanigans playing out before she was even 20.
But as she admits in Wishful Drinking, she bottled up her emotions and took an acerbic, sardonic approach to life.
Her mother and father were all over the place with their romantic lives, to which their daughter adopted a world weary acceptance of proceedings.
She was something of the Saffy character from Absolutely Fabulous. Looking on in dismay as the adults decades ahead of her behaved atrociously, although this at least helped to sharpen her intellect and make her wise beyond her years.
Unfortunately, Fisher also had bipolar disorder (manic depression).
She was aware of this issue early in life and began seeking help for it at age 15. In her 20s, she took more control over the issue with drug abuse.
Later in life, she tried ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) to clear the “cement” out of her brain. She had initial reservations about this due to the notorious scene with Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Such serious subject matter is usually treated with mild disdain, biting wit, and putdowns. A lot of them self-deprecating.
Fisher even views her success with mild disdain and a sense of imposter syndrome.
Star Wars catapulted her to stardom and turned Fisher/Princess Leia into a fantasy object for teenage geeks across the world.
When she auditioned for the role (which she expected to be a minor part in a forgettable B movie—just something to do) she was surprised to get it and also annoyed after being told to lose 10 pounds.
At the time, she was completely unprepared for the level of adoration that followed the film’s success.
Whilst the world gawped at her, Fisher became further entrenched in a world of cocaine and manic depression.
She later acknowledged she had little idea she was attractive, although she was bombarded with lust from the aforementioned teenage geeks etc.
Even now you can see on YouTube (for this interview in 1980), all the commenters either gushing about her appearance or presuming she was under the influence of cocaine here.
As delightful a place as the internet can be at times, as she aged Fisher faced the usual batch of dickhead social media trolls picking apart how, aged 60, she didn’t look like she did 40 years previously.
However, the older Fisher got the more she came to be at ease with herself. Although it’s sad to note it took so long for her to find some peace of mind, it appears her daughter (Billie Lourd) helped her to achieve that.
But as you might have guessed, Wishful Drinking isn’t about Fisher complaining about any of the developments in her life—she was more than aware of her privileged upbringing.
It’s more she took her issues in her stride. Even if, at times, she stumbled across life’s challenges with considerable difficulty.
She almost died of an accidental overdose in the 1980s, her marriage to Paul Simon collapsed in the same decade, and the next man she married turned out to be gay.
Adding to her issues, she also had a gay friend die in her home in February 2005. This affected Fisher badly over the following year.
But throughout all of this she kept her nerve and ready wit—she championed mental health, LGTB, and HIV/AIDS causes.
It’s just a shame it all abruptly ended in December 27th, 2016 when Fisher suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Her mother, 84 year old Debbie Reynolds, died the day after following a stroke.
Fisher’s was a tumultuous life, no doubt. Wishful Drinking makes that very clear.
But it’s a great fun, short read that’ll draw you in, make you laugh, and make you consider the darker side of success and celebrity.
It’ll also make you regret the loss of an acerbic wit. Carrie Fisher may be gone, but her work will ensure she’s not forgotten.
Wishful Drinking the Stage Show!
Carrie Fisher’s stage show preceded the book, which was adapted from the one-woman play she headed.
The first run was in 2008, with other shows running in 2009 and 2010. It eventually ran on Broadway, at Seattle’s Repertory Theatre, and the Arena Stage in Washington D.C.
Again, lots and lots of sardonic wit. Huzzah!
This was all before the new Star Wars films, of course, for which Fisher decided to reprise her Princess Leia role one last time.
Once again, the studio asked her to lose weight before filming began. Some things just don’t bloody change, eh?