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Wishful Drinking – Review – ***1/2

A couple of weeks ago, I rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time in years. This was a waste of time, as none of those movies are on my list, but I’m glad I did, because I forgot how awesome they are. And Princess Leia is among the most awesome elements in that awesome movie. It was the seventies, and here’s this beautiful, kick-ass, intelligent, snarky, gun-toting, no-nonsense, feminine woman playing an active role in the plot. How did I not remember all this? Why were all my Star Wars memories entirely made of Yoda, R2, and lightsabers?

So I started reading up on the woman who brought Leia to life, and I began to realise that she was pretty awesome, too. But I wanted to read about her in her own words (and I had a gift certificate to Chapters), so I bought her first memoir, and devoured it in a night.

Wishful Drinking is a short book (not 200 pages), and it goes by in a flash. Like the best memoirs, you feel like you know the writer by the end of the novel. it I don’t know if there’s a more efficient way to bare one’s soul than through writing, and when you write nonfiction, when you don’t hide behind characters or plot, it doesn’t get much more personal than that. I’ve read a couple of moving meditations on the one-way nature of writing, and in many ways, it’s similar to the one-way nature of celebrity. Millions of people read/watch authors and actors, and develop all sorts of relationships with those they ogle, but the object of the ogling can never reciprocate. An author’s one novel can touch millions of readers, establishing deep and lasting connections (for me, some of the authors I would most like to thank personally for their work are Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and P.G. Wodehouse), but that one author simply cannot, realistically, reciprocate in kind. It’s a strange, voyeuristic existence, and we’re used to it, but when they invite you in so openly, it’s difficult not to actively wish you could converse with them. In short, I want to be Carrie Fisher’s friend, and so do a million other people. No one has meaningful relationships with a million people. Well, what can you do?

I enjoyed Wishful Drinking. I laughed out loud a few times, learned a good deal about a lifestyle I will never know, and discovered that at one point, Princess Leia was married to Paul Simon. The things I have managed to go my whole life without knowing. The reason this book doesn’t get a higher grade is because I was more impressed with the author than the product. I like Carrie Fisher, and this is a good book, but I couldn’t call it a must-read. It is very short, and feels like it’s missing quite a lot. It’s 2 in the morning and I don’t think I’m expressing myself at all properly, but as enjoyable as it was, it just felt slight. I have dealt with mental illness, and I think Fisher’s openness is admirable and her ability to describe her mental state evidence of a empathetic, sympathetic human being with a wonderful way with words, so I’m not trying to say the book didn’t mean anything to me. I just feel like it’s a 3.5 star book. I don’t know. Whatever. Point is: glad I read it, would recommend it, like owning your weaknesses and sharing your hard-won wisdom, love Fisher, love Leia, love Star Wars, love sleep. Good night.

Cannonball Read III: 11/52