Thursday, December 1, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher
@SPL 791.43028092 Fishe

Actress, author, screenwriter, drug addict, alcoholic, headcase: Carrie Fisher is a success in all of these things. Performer of a successful one-woman show based upon her successful book. Successful screenwriter of Postcards from the Edge and a number of television movies. Successful actress in When Harry Met Sally and of course, the original Star Wars trilogy as the spirited Princess Leia. That's Stratford's own 6-degrees of separation, by the way - she starred with sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan, who starred in the very first season of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. I digress. Actually, Ms. Fischer does a lot of digressing in her latest memoir, Shockaholic. At least, she seems to, but she does tie up her threads, so don't be tempted to skip around. 

Her memoir starts out with an examination of her own obsession with getting electro-convulsive shock therapy, the stuff of any number of horror movies which has actually come a long way since One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Used as a last-resort treatment for those with severe depression and / or addictions, Ms. Fisher honestly reports on the effects of this therapy (memory-loss being the most significant side-affect) before moving on to addressing subjects that got her to such a point in her life. 

The aforementioned Princess Leia haunts her still, as does the deaths of several close friends who she feels she could have saved. She reveals much about her fractured relationships that had at their roots, her father, Eddie Fisher. A recap: Eddie was married to Debbie Reynolds, they had Carrie and her brother. Elizabeth Taylor stole Eddie, then dumped him and he married Connie Stevens. So into Carrie's very early life came fame, scandal, step-parents and step-siblings, and more fame, all of which she was incapable of handling very well. For all of her self-indictment, this memoir is actually shows quite a bit of healing going on - her acceptance and friendship with Elizabeth Taylor for instance, and especially the repaired, if somewhat still wonky, relationship with her father in the years before his death. 

This is not a cozy memoir, by any means - Ms. Fisher has a potty-mouth, shows a penchant for shock-value, and examines some uncomfortable subjects - i.e. how hard it is to escape addictions and how easy it is to form them. Personal photos dot the memoir, often with wildly funny captions, making Shockaholic a quick, satisfying read (or listen, in the case of the audio book) for anyone fascinated by celebrity or facing their own personal demons. For best results, read following her previous memoir, Wishful Drinking.

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on December 1st. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian.

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