Our late-summer selection for GNBC, hosted by GeekyNerdy Girl, is Carrie Fisher’s memoir Shockaholic.
Right from the dedication (to her daughter and the former president) you can tell this book will be entertaining.
This short memoir actually reads more like a series of essays than a chronological life story. I ended up really liking the format because it was easy to pick up and put down. Each chapter is a different topic, ranging from her family and friends to her mental and physical health. There is very little mention of Star Wars at all.
Of course, I was expecting some discussion of her struggles with mental health, because I know she was a great advocate on that topic, but it is really only covered directly in one chapter. However, I do think it was such a big part of her life that it bleeds over into everything she talks about, especially her family.
Carrie Fisher clearly had a unique sense of humor. I actually put this book aside for a few days when I started, because it can be pretty dark humor at times and I just wasn’t in the mood for it. But as I kept reading, I really appreciated it and laughed out loud a lot. I thought the funniest story was when she went to dinner as a young woman with some senators in DC. She refused to be intimidated by them, and I was totally cheering for her as she held her own with inappropriate humor.
I also really loved that there are personal pictures throughout the book. And the captions are hilarious, rarely pertaining to the picture at all. Instead, they sound like a historical documentary. For example, her friend Michael Jackson reading her memoir is labeled as Harry Truman playing golf.
I didn’t know much about her family prior to reading this book, so learning about her famous parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, as well as Eddie’s wife Elizabeth Taylor, really helped me understand her better. She had such a unique perspective on fame, having grown up around such famous people; this seems to be one reason she was able to understand her friend Michael Jackson so well. In fact, she was an extremely self-aware person, and this comes through in all her writings.
Reading this memoir in light of her death last year was interesting, considering that a good part of the book deals with remembrances of other people after their deaths, including her father, stepfather, Michael Jackson, and another close friend who OD’d basically right next to her. It definitely leads to a sense of one’s own mortality, and feels very poignant now that she’s gone, too. As I said, she was very self-aware, and left us this thought:
What you’ll have of me after I journey to that great Death Star in the sky is an extremely accomplished daughter, a few books, and a picture of a stern-looking girl wearing some kind of metal bikini lounging on a giant drooling squid, behind a newscaster informing you of the passing of Princess Leia after a long battle with her head.
It was a battle she continued to fight until, and even as, she died, and I think, as does her daughter Billie, that she would want to continue to be open about that battle no matter the results. She was used to living her life for others, and she continues to do so even in death as an icon, not just in sci-fi, but also for those of us who also fight mental health battles.