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Thursday, December 29, 2016

To Honor Carrie Fisher, Read

"I don't want life to imitate art. I want life to be art." —Carrie Fisher


I saw the original Star Wars movie when it was originally released. The first one of the continuing series. I stood in line outside a theater in Allentown, Pennsylvania with my college girlfriend. I liked the film but I wasn't crazy about it. My girlfriend, however, loved it and she really loved Princess Leia. A lot of other people did, too.  

I never saw another movie in the Star Wars collection and never again saw Carrie Fisher on the big screen, but I read Postcards from the Edge, and boy, could that girl write.

Forget Princess Leia. Fisher's legacy should be her books. She did dysfunctional memoir better than most anyone who has ever written in the genre. She was funny but poignant. She was sweet but edgy. She was real as real can be. Most of all, she was honest.

In a New York Times opinion piece on Fisher, Lawrence Downes wrote of her books, "They are works where misery and brilliance commingle with wit, the creations of an actual person who had many layers and is worth getting to know, as opposed to Princess Leia, who has none and is not." Maybe a little strong on criticizing the Princess but dead on when it comes to Fisher. 

Downes also questioned whether we might liken Fisher to satirist Dorothy Parker because of Fisher's brilliant wit. But Fisher may have been better. The reason was the interior goodness that emerged from the depression and heartache. One of my favorite quotes from Fisher is not only appropriate for the season but also says a great deal about who she was: "Christmas is not necessarily about things. It's about being good to one another, it's about the Christian ethic, it's about kindness." That's the Carrie Fisher that rose from the cracks of her wisecracks and it is what made her writing so special. It was the light in her darkness and the vulnerability she so genuinely embraced. 

"I'm very sane about how crazy I am," Fisher once said. That mixture is what she brought to her writing and it may have been her greatest gift.

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