I spent last night in bed with Carrie Fisher.
Let me rephrase that. I spent last night in bed with Shockaholic, the new book by Carrie Fisher. I read it in one long sitting along with a bag of Fig Newtons and a Lucy episode in between.
Like her last book, Wishful Drinking, it’s a slim, compact 156 page regurgitation of being the daughter of 2 famous and frequently fucked-up parents filled with her notorious, explicit lore.
It begins with her naked account of receiving shock treatments (ECT) for her ongoing struggle with depression. She’s pretty jolly over this even after admitting she had to staff out her only daughter to the kid’s father since self-indulgence reigned so high. Her willingness to let it all hang out made me both uncomfortable and awed. She relentlessly makes fun of her rising weight and aging demeanor in a way that I never could. She made me so nervous at one point I got up to put on make-up.
What’s so odd about that?
It was 3AM.
I have to say that was my least favorite part of the book but when she segues into her parents (Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher) both writer and reader are off to the races.
Her description of her step-father, Harry Karl, who married her mother when Carrie was 3, is particularly hilarious. I guess the rule is, if you’re willing to expose yourself without mercy then it’s alright to tear apart another in the same vein.
Mr. Karl died in 1982 I’m sure assuming his famous flatulence did too but his step-daughter decided to mischievously resurrect it. Here’s a tip for you – the next time you choose to publicly pass gas make sure you look both ways.
What a thing to be remembered for.
Debbie Reynolds was married to him for 13 years yet it sounds like such a sham or shame, if you will. My perpetual naivete never allows me to comprehend staying with someone for any other reason but love.
She was only married to Carrie’s father, Eddie Fisher, for 4 years when Elizabeth Taylor came along and swiped him like a debit card.
He was the best friend of Mike Todd, one of Liz’s 7 husbands, who died in a plane crash in 1957. I guess you could say Mr. Fisher paid a very long condolence call that broke up his marriage to Debbie. Years later when Carrie cornered her former step-mother about busting up their home she said something to the effect of, “Let’s just say your father and I kept Mike Todd alive.” Don’t ask me what but there was something terribly noble in that statement.
That’s all water under the bridge since all 3 woman resolved their differences before Elizabeth died in 2011. In the chapter ‘Oy! My Pa-Pa,’ Carrie tells the story of Liz pushing her into a swimming pool absolving her of all sins.
There’s also a lengthy anecdote about Ted Kennedy that’s not too flattering.
Oh, what’s one more.
It’s not all sarcasm and scorn. When she talks about her father and close friends who have died it changes temperature quickly.
‘The thing is, I’ve helped people die. Not that they couldn’t have done it without me. And lord knows all too many people end up doing it alone. But I’ve kept my fair share of vigils at the bedsides of those with only a few moments, or days, or weeks to spare…
Everyone understands their role. One stays until the other person can’t anymore. And the one who won’t be able to stick around is much more important than the one who can…
This last passage really hit home. It reminded me of when my friend Nancy passed away. She had so many other friends much closer to her but chose me to be on call. I was grateful for what C.F. wrote because for the first time I understood one’s part holding that vigil when someone is preparing to leave.
Carrie Fisher claims her memory has been compromised because of her shock treatments but to the contrary, long term wise anyway, her clarity resonates clear as a bell.
With all of her admitted flaws and weaknesses she’s a hellova writer. Candor on any level whether your talking about addiction, sexual preference or sins of your parents is worthy of well-deserved admiration.
If you like tales of old Hollywood when movie stars stole each others husbands and married men solely for their cash, along with spoiled, randy senators and a certain deceased rock star that will forever remain an enigma (I’m not telling), you’ll like Shockaholic.
It isn’t every day you read a book that has irreverence draped on one side while poignancy graces the other.
At least that’s been my experience.