Review: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

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If you follow me on social media, you probably know that other than History, I’m very into everything Star Wars. And if you didn’t know that – well now you do. I received Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist as a Christmas gift and I was eager to dive into it for any interesting tidbits of Carrie’s recollections during the filming of A New Hope–if the title didn’t give it away, the book publishes Carrie’s 40 year old diaries (she was 19 at the time,) alongside present-day recollections.

The excitement of receiving this book, of course, was before the devastating news that Carrie suddenly passed away after a heart attack (and sadly followed by her mother the next day.) Reading The Princess Diarist after Carrie’s passing was poignant, even ominous (I know she’d laugh at that) given the few times in which she jokingly, and sometimes not jokingly, alludes to her own death. What’s more, Carrie was so vibrant and full of life and her writing reflected that, and so her passing seems even more implausible. Often rambling, but charming and insightful…reading this book felt as if you were sitting across from Carrie sharing a cup of coffee as she told you colorful stories of her past: her trepidation over the classic cinnamon bun hairstyle, her sordid affair with Harrison Ford and subsequent silent infatuation with him, and her meteoric rise to fame at the ripe age of twenty.

I would like to not be able to hear myself think. I constantly hear my mind chattering and jabbering away up there all by itself. I wish it would give me a fucking break. Write, don’t think, write. You’re not thinking properly, Ms. Fisher, I suggest you write.

If anyone reads this when I have passed to the big bad beyond I shall be posthumorously embarrassed. I shall spend my entire afterlife blushing.

What moved me most was Carrie’s diaries written during her time filming A New Hope. Sometimes stream of consciousness, sometimes poetic–Carrie’s writing at the age of 19 was so smart and intense, emotional and thoughtful. Not that I could or would compare myself to Carrie at all, but it sort of reminded me of going back and reading my own volatile writing during high school. The teen angst days when every emotion was cranked up to 100, where everything was felt so intensely and all consuming. Did my teenage writing have as much wisdom as Carrie’s? I don’t know, probably not. I sure as hell won’t let anyone read the stuff I wrote in high school for fear of total and utter embarrassment. But Carrie released these 40 year old insights to us, as she bravely always had a habit of exposing herself too much (she states this fact often in her writing and interviews). Carrie often laments about opening herself up too fast and too soon to people, perhaps out of some subconscious wish to please and be loved. I suppose anyone in the Arts can relate to that on some level, even if we don’t want to admit we’re seeking love and praise. We’re human. And in this book, as was in life, Carrie wasn’t afraid to show all sides of herself. And we praised and loved her for it.

I do not want to take part in my life. It can just go on without me; I’m not giving it any help. I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to talk to it, I don’t want it anywhere near me. If you have a life, even if you get used to it ruining your sleep, spoiling your fun, requiring your somewhat undivided attention, what overwhelming relief one must feel when it finally skips town.

I don’t like having to keep the spinning plates spinning on top of all their various and sun-dried poles. From now on they can fall off the poles and break for all I care. I censor myself and where the fuck does it get you? Gussying up your thoughts and putting them to paper.

The book itself is a short, pleasant read albeit the inherent sadness of knowing Carrie is gone. I probably could have read it in one sitting were it not for my habit of reading before bed and not wanting to stay up too late. But I did read it in two days. You won’t be disappointed, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan or even if you have an interest in what fame does to people. Carrie’s words resonate on many levels for me–while I’m not bipolar like Carrie was, I do have GAD and a panic disorder which I have been medicated for for years, so I very much could relate to the non-stop chattering mind and the perpetual beating up of ones’ self. Carrie’s words in The Princess Diarist have stuck in my mind so much so that I think I’ve inadvertently written this review in her tone and style!

Grade: A

PS Wishful Drinking is next. I don’t know what took me so long to read Carrie’s work…I suppose now that she’s gone I want to take in everything she left behind because there won’t be anymore.

Rest well, Carrie.

 

 

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