Jul 21, 2017

[Books] Wishful Drinking - Audible Review

My explorations of Audible's biographical offerings continue with one audio book after another. I'm generally enjoying learning about the lives of various geeky stars, although I have apparently ended up with mostly titles crafted by women. As much as they're all geeky women, they're women nonetheless. What a funny coincidence.

Wishful Drinking is an interesting biographical piece as it began as a stage show for Carrie Fisher, who clearly has a flair for humor and some good-natured, self-depreciating humor to boot. Then again I suppose a lot of comics, especially that brave the rigors of stand-up, eventually add this comedic skill to their wheelhouse.

But the timing of this book is rather interesting and it adds another level of vulnerability or perhaps more a sense of being genuine or something to this book. It makes for a great listening experience.

Synopsis: Wishful Drinking is a autobiogaphical book written by Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame. The book followed Fisher's one-woman stage show as developed together with Josh Ravetch.

The biography is somewhat framed with a particular point in Carrie Fisher's life when memory loss is a serious side-effect. Thus to embark on writing a biography may seem both appropriate and challenging for anyone given these circumstances as a response to this potential loss of history. But te way Fisher addresses it is rather head-on with a lot of humor to boot.

And thus we explore her life stating with her celebrity family, her getting into Star Wars and all the fun and crazy stuff in-between and beyond. She freely talks about her struggles with addictions of all sorts and mental illness and even waking up next to a dead friend. And how she retells these events with key details but perhaps some fuzzy bits as well is both revealing, amusing and downright funny.

What I Liked: So the book is pretty funny, and knowing it was performed as a live show of sorts helps explain that side of things. Fisher is more than open about making fun of herself and just blurting out whatever feels right, as is something that does become easier with age. And she has certainly had quite the colorful history that her rather candid approach to things helps a lot.

Experiencing this as an audio book is even better as Fisher is pretty savvy with comedy both in terms of writing and actually delivering such lines. Fisher's reading is lively and perfectly captures her often sardonic humor in terms of how she probably imagined it in her head when she read things or when she crafted her one-woman piece. It's a delight to read and one of the lovely artifacts  that she has left behind given her passing.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, the book is still clearly a first effort at something as at times pacing feels slow or overall structure feels confusing. The "story" doesn't exactly follow her life in a chronological order, and that's fine. There are just bits that feel overly long while others seem too short. The way things were sequenced and such don't always flow all that well from one chapter to the next but Fisher's performance helps carry you through.

Many Star Wars fans may come across this book and hope to learn a lot more about her time as Princess Leia  and maybe this isn't quite the book for you. This first memoir is a retelling of her life until that point and Star Wars is but one part of a larger whole. And it's her life to write about as she pleases, but it's still a bit of a surprise given how the book is marketed.

TL;DR: Wishing Drinking is a fun opportunity to learn more about Carrie Fisher's life and the audio book also helps you feel like you know her a bit more on a personal level, as crazy as that may sound. She may no longer be with us but she certainly lives on in her writing. And thus the book gets 4 references to being high on this or that drug out of a possible 5.


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