Carrie Fisher’s new memoir, “The Princess Diarist,” is about her short-lived affair with Harrison Ford during the shooting of “Star Wars,” when Fisher was 19. Her honesty will make you cringe. But perhaps that’s a good thing. Honest writing should make us cringe, even when it’s bad.
But this memoir is also educational, if you overlook its authorial excesses. So let the cringe be with you, as we travel through this book:
What it’s like to kiss Harrison Ford: It’s like “reading another person’s face with your mouth with dedicated eagerness, swimming with your lips between a particular person’s nose and chin, gently digging for jewels using your tongue as a makeshift shovel . . . fishing face-to-face — like grouper, but without the water, the scales, and that awful fishy smell. But otherwise . . .” Cringe-worthy writing, yes, but thank goodness for that “otherwise.”
Too many cringe-worthy jokes: Remember that Fisher is the product of the song-and-dance-team Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, so some stand-up is expected. After her affair began, she writes, “Mum is the word for just so long and then it has to go back to being a British parent.” One example of this is enough.
Cringe-worthy descriptions, a.k.a. too much information: During the filming of “Star Wars,” Fisher was lathered in lip gloss, so much so that “if I was licking my lips in some come-hither way, that still wouldn’t account for that slap of sticky shine. No tongue is that wet. Or if it was, it would have to be the tongue of a buffalo — or my dog Gary.”
Cringe-worthy heartbreak: When her Hollywood lover ends the affair and tries to lessen the pain by telling Fisher, “You have the eyes of a doe and the balls of a samurai.” Later, Fisher consoles herself: “It’s the only thing he ever said to me that acknowledged any intimacy between us, and it was enough.”
Cringe-worthy truth about being a onetime A-list Hollywood star: “What would I be if I weren’t princess Leia? A great big nothing without one piece of fan mail to call my own.” Later in life, when a family brings its daughter to meet Fisher, the child wails: “No! . . . I want the other Leia, not the old one.”
There are plenty of cringes in this book, none more edifying than the ones found in the diary that Fisher kept during the filming of “Star Wars” when she and Ford were involved. These poignant entries remind us of the universal, indeed galactic, wish we all have to be loved and desired. Move quickly over the bad jokes and the awkward writing, and you have a readable and eye-opening account of a sad but strong princess who has always been her own woman.
Sibbie O’Sullivan writes about culture and arts. She lives in Wheaton, Md.
By Carrie Fisher
Blue Rider. 272 pp. $26