The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Best for: Carrie Fisher fans, Star Wars fans, memoir fans.
In a nutshell: Carrie Fisher tells stories of her time before and during the filming of the first Star Wars film, and looks at what it has all meant to her.
Line that sticks with me: “I act like someone in a bomb shelter trying to raise everyone’s spirits.” (p153)
Why I chose it: I was in a bookstore the day after Ms. Fisher died, and this was the last copy of any of her books left. I knew I wanted to start reading her writing, but then decided to start at the beginning and save this for last.
Review: Mission sort of accomplished. After reading two of Ms. Fisher’s four novels, I started the third and decided that her fiction just isn’t my favorite. But I enjoyed her two previous works of non-fiction, so still went forward with this one. And I’m so glad I did.
I am not a big Star Wars fan. The first time I saw it was with a guy named Brandon something. I was a freshman in high school, and he was a senior. He played an instrument in the school marching band – I want to say saxophone – and I was on the drill team, which meant I wore a cheerleader outfit but twirled two small flags instead of two large pom poms. He showed me the first film, in what I later learned was an attempted … seduction? No, that’s too dramatic. Dude wasn’t interested in getting into my pants – I think he was just looking for like a kiss or something. Didn’t work though. (Sorry Brandon! Hope you’re doing well!)
So even though I’m not a big fan, I live in the world, and thus I’m familiar with the movies. I’ve grown to enjoy them, and have now seen all of the films save Episode II (which is actually the fifth one released, right?). I appreciate that Princess Leia has grown to become General Leia. And while I know that Ms. Fisher is not Princess Leia, I also know that much of her life has been consumed by the blurring of those identities.
To me, however, Ms. Fisher is first and foremost Marie from When Harry Met Sally, so reading this book was a great way to learn more about her time as Leia, and what that meant. The middle section is literally pages from her diaries from the time shooting Episode IV, and some of it is delightful, some of it is sad, and some of it is filled with truly bad poetry. It’s fantastic to see someone lay all of that out there. Especially considering just a week ago my own mother called to tell me she’d found some horrible poetry of mine about a crush I had on a boy named Ryan. Oh god, I didn’t even let her finish reading it to me. She held the phone to the shredder as she put that mortifying bit of my history in; I can’t imagine sharing it with millions of people in a book.
But I’m so glad Ms. Fisher did. I enjoyed this book as much as her other non-fiction works, and I think it was better edited than the rest. The story flowed, the chapters felt connected, there was something of a storyline as opposed to essays that didn’t seem to have a connection other than the storyteller. And while I am so sad that Ms. Fisher died when she did, this seems to be a perfect final bit for her to leave us with.