Apr 26, 2018

[Books] Postcards From The Edge Audible Review

Carrie Fisher has been a major player in my Audible adventures. As she has written many memoirs about different parts of her life and has also read the audio book versions of these books, they have made for interesting content to listen to.

Postcards From The Edge is her first work of fiction that I've had the opportunity to listen to. This may still be "cheating" in a way as the book obviously draws a lot from her own life in crafting the story,  but it's still a piece of fiction that is distinct enough from her own life to be original.

Every new audio book that I listen to makes me miss her even more and makes me feel just a little bit creepy for collecting them. I know I'm probably overthinking things but there's something about hearing an author read her own words. It makes things somehow feel a bit more personal even though we've never met.

Synopsis: Postscards From The Edge is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Carrie Fisher. It was later turned into a movie with the same title that was released in 1990.

The story follows the thoughts of Suzanne Vale, an actress who is finally in rehab after a drug overdose. The early parts of the book are presented first as postcards that Suzanne writes to members of her family followed by excerpts from a journal she tries to maintain while undergoing treatment. Thus we follow closely her thoughts about her various experiences in the facility and her various moments of self-realization regarding her addiction.

Eventually the book shifts to a full third-person narrative as we folllow her life after rehab and her first efforts to get back into her old work routine including getting back in front of the camera. This latter half of the book make seem a bit more mundane on the surface but there are a lot of subtle moments that make you think long and hard about your personal journey.

What I Liked: I felt that the first half of the book was very, very strong, especially as an audio book experience. This is when the lines between Suzanne and Carrie blur the most as it's clear she draws a lot from her own experiences with rehab and therapy in order to craft Suzanne's journey. The creative efforts to use formats like the postcards and the journal really made things feel more substantial and real for some reason and that really struck a chord with me. Or maybe that just reflects how I've listened to all of her other memoirs before listening to this book.

And on the whole it's a very striking and perhaps revealing story that inevitably has you wondering which parts are just fiction and which parts turn out to be more of Carrie's life in disguise. Even the sections covering her getting back to work feel so authentic and real and I suppose that's the power of this piece.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, the shift to a third person perspective for the second half of the book felt like a sad deviation from what was already working. Mayber she got tired of the format while writing the book or maybe someone recommended that she go a bit more traditional for the other half and I felt that was a loss. The first person voice felt a lot more personal and heartfelt and it gave the character a lot more emotional weight, if you understand my meaning.

And I can also imagine a lot of people not being perfectly happy with how it ends. This is one of those books that can be quite subtle in terms of its conflict as it's all inside Suzanne. And so it feels like we temporarily joined her on her journey and we end up leaving before one really gets to the "end" of things. Not that one can really say where the "end" lies as the struggle against things like addiction are part of a larger problem that you can't easily pin down as having a start and the end. But not everyone likes not having things resolved cleanly and efficiently.

TL;DR: Postcards From The Edge is a subtle yet quite powerful book that probably gives us a clue to how Carrie Fisher got into writing so much about herself later in life. It's not the best example of good writing for stories of this nature but it still has a lot of impact. And so the audio book gets a good 4 postcards written while in rehab out of a possible 5.

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