Non-Fiction / Comedy
I like Carrie Fisher. Not just because she portrayed Princess Leia in Star Wars, but because, although most actors may seem larger than life, Fisher appears to be the most down to Earth individual in Hollywood. A down to Earth person with flaws just like everyone else who isn’t afraid to talk about them…and often make fun of them. She is also a person of many talents: singing, acting and writing. I enjoyed Postcards from the Edge, a fictional work based on her very real problems, and Wishful Drinking, a memoir of sorts. So, when I learned that Carrie Fisher had written another non-fiction book entitled Shockaholic, I had to get my hands on it.
Wishful Drinking discussed many of Carrie Fisher’s issues with her mother, her father, her drug addiction, etc. leading up to beginning shock therapy as a means of controlling her bipolar disorder. Shockaholic begins with Carrie explaining that ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, works very well for her. It clears all the muddle thoughts and basically blows away the mania inside her head. Unfortunately, as a result, Carrie has discovered that ECT also blows apart her memory. Shockaholic is a means of Carrie Fisher to record some of her memories lest she forget the important milestones of her recent life.
The main topic of discussion in this book is her father, Eddie Fisher. Having died a year before the book was published, it is no surprise that Carrie Fisher would want to record her feelings about her father and the relationship that had been missing between them until his later years. Despite the absence of her father in her early years and the addictions that she and her father have shared despite that absence, Carrie finds a way to paint her father in an endearing light. Sure, he had faults, but he was still her father and, in the end, she still loves him.
In fact, thanks to the relationship they developed later in their lives and her decision to provide care for him toward the end, Carrie has found a special sort of peace. One of the ways this becomes readily apparent is in the style of her writing toward the end of the book. Starting off the book in her usual snarky, witty manner, Carrie throws in less and less tongue-in-cheek jokes toward the end of the book.
While Shockaholic was a quick read and an enjoyable, endearing ode to Eddie Fisher and I applaud Carrie’s decision to straighten herself out for the sake of her daughter, I found it less enjoyable of a read than Wishful Drinking. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Wishful Drinking was designed to be a one-woman play, seeking to shock and entertain an audience. Shockaholic was more of a memoir of recent events designed as an outlet for Carrie to express herself without worrying too much about entertaining.
That being said, I do think that Shockaholic is one of those books that will serve good purpose with those suffering from mental illness, drug addiction and/or dysfunctional families. Once you get to the end, you can really start to see how Carrie Fisher has come to a point of peace in her life. Sure, she still has issues, but she is dealing with them head on instead of trying to escape them through drugs and alcohol, a commendable act and worthy of great praise. Keep up the good work Carrie Fisher - we are all pulling for you!