Today I Read…Standing Up

Standing UpToday I read Standing Up: A Memoir of a Funny (Not Always) Life by Marion Grodin.

So…Addiction. Broken marriage. Cancer. The ABCs of comedy, amirite? Can I get a laugh track here?

Well, maybe not.

Marion Grodin tells the uncensored story of her life, from her relationship with her actor father Charles Grodin to her mother’s overabundance of pets, her long-running personal war with drug addiction, from falling in love to broken hearts, from writing for sitcoms to battling breast cancer, from stumbling around her life to finding the thing she was meant to do for the rest of it.

Living life? You’ve gotta do it. But finding the funny side, now that’s hard.

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So, disclaimer, I was asked by the publisher to review this book. (Little bit of squee here- squee! Ok, done.) I don’t really follow stand-up comedy, so I wasn’t familiar with Marion Grodin or her work before reading her autobiography. Based on the title and the cover, and the fact that the book jacket immediately describes her as “Comedian Marion Grodin” I was expecting a funnier book than I got. It opens with her doing her routine at a Kennedy gala, and the first chapter ends with treatment for breast cancer and her husband leaving her. Hell of a punchline.

I have to compliment her on her honesty- she never shrinks away from anything she’s done or thought of felt, good or bad. There’s a lot of pain in this book- it makes you wonder if writing it was as much therapy as autobiography. But there’s also a lot of strength, for surviving and not breaking.  In the end, you have to admire her courage for standing up and surviving everything life has thrown at her- now if only she could kick her final addiction to Haagen-Dazs…

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Today I Read…Shockaholic

Today I read Shockaholic, the second autobiography by Carrie Fisher, and sequel to the bestselling Wishful Drinking.Shockaholic

Carrie Fisher has perfected the art of skewering herself, with one exception: she just can’t stick the apple in her mouth, mostly because it would keep her from talking about herself and her crazy life. Said crazy life over the last few years includes losing her beloved father and former stepmother, Eddie Fisher and the legendary Elizabeth Taylor; writing and starring in her Emmy- and Tony-nominated one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, based on her first bestselling autobiography; and of course her growing addiction to Electro-Convulsive Shock Therapy, and it’s related memory problems. Shockaholic is Fisher’s way of dealing with her memory problems, by writing down her life–fortunately (or unfortunately, if you don’t like the book) she’s decided to share the products with the world. So sit back, have a drink (coffee, she’s also trying to stay sober), and listen to a tale of not that long ago, from a Hollywoodland far, far away…
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I first read Wishful Drinking because Mom got us tickets to her show in Toronto a few years ago, and you can never let a book be spoiled. It was hilarious and I loved it, both the book and the show. I ran afterwards to the back door of the theater, and I managed to get the only autograph, since I guess she ran right out too.

Carrie Fisher is brutally, unrelentingly honest about her life and the mistakes that she’s made, but she never appears sorry for the drugs, career decisions, the invasion of her family’s privacy and mockery of her friends, the foul language, the devoted self-interest–on the contrary, she revels in it, since all of it comes together to create Carrie Fisher, a legend before her time who has spent the years since being Princess Leia finding out who she is underneath the silly white robe with no underwear. This isn’t so much a book as it is an experience, with a unique, oddly charming, and above all powerful voice. I’m still not sure I know who the real Carrie Fisher is, and she probably doesn’t either with all of the ECT she’s undergone, but whoever she is, she has balls bigger than Leia’s buns.