Camilla Long

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

There is good news and bad news. The good news (I think) is that Car­rie Fisher has fi­nally writ­ten a book about her af­fair with Har­ri­son Ford. The bad news is that Fisher has writ­ten a book. The Princess Diarist reads like a ter­ri­ble cre­ative writ­ing ex­per­i­ment, com­plete with po­ems and ap­palling puns (“metaphor be with you!”).

Puz­zlingly, it also re­veals al­most noth­ing about the af­fair, which we are told hap­pened on the set of the first Star Wars film in 1976.

Fisher is a tire­some con­trar­ian (and an ex­haust­ing read) who ini­tially tries to down­play the fact that she did some­thing as trashy as bonk­ing a co-star. It was at once “a very long one-night stand”, she drawls on page 182. She was “re­lieved” when it ended. Ford was “bor­ing” and “mono­syl­labic”, mar­ried with two chil­dren.

But she was also pas­sion­ately in love with him, wanted to marry him, didn’t want to live when he left. “I loved him and he al­lowed it,” she wails. So which was it?

I can’t imag­ine to what fi­nan­cial depths Fisher must have sunk in or­der to write this book, an ob­vi­ous puff for the new Star Wars films, in which she and Ford re­turn. There is a clue to­wards the end, where a whole 30 pages are de­voted to the mis­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence of sign­ing pho­to­graphs for cash at nerd con­ven­tions.

Fisher was 19 when she was asked to try for the role of Princess Leia. She some­how man­ages to give a dull de­scrip­tion of her au­di­tion, say­ing how many times she has told the story.

Any­way, she landed the role and thought so lit­tle of it that she “blithely” signed away the rights to her im­age.

She is now 60 and barely earns a “quar­ter of a point” on roy­al­ties, de­spite Star Wars be­ing one of the big­gest fran­chises. She gets some money from sign­ing au­to­graphs in ware­houses (hers is worth $US70, or $95) and from dig­ging up her teenage di­aries, writ­ten at the time of the first film, from un­der the floor­boards.

She has reprinted huge tracts of these di­aries here, but again they re­veal lit­tle. There is no di­rect men­tion of an af­fair. Ford is re­ferred to by name only twice. The rest is slushy, subEL James flaf­fle that even as a teenager she knew was bad. She would be “posthu­mously em­bar­rassed” if any­one read them, she wrote.

Fast for­ward 40 years and she is now mys­te­ri­ously get­ting over her ear­lier good sense and foist­ing these ter­ri­ble vol­umes upon us. She is The Princess Diarist: A Sort of Mem­oir ... By Car­rie Fisher Ban­tam Press, 272pp, $34.99 also sud­denly re­mem­ber­ing her ru­moured but as yet un­told “af­fair”.

Is it mean of me to say how con­ve­nient? I don’t think she has to­tally made it up, but it wouldn’t be the first celebrity mem­oir to be pitched off the back of ridicu­lous set gos­sip.

It doesn’t help that she can’t re­call much of it, blam­ing her “mem­ory loss” on dope (Ford ap­par­ently liked weed of a “bru­tal strength”) and a sniffy sense of pro­pri­ety (she draws a laven­der­scented veil over de­tails of their sex life — so ir­ri­tat­ing). “I can barely re­call our time to­gether dur­ing the first week­end,” she whin­nies. Could she bear to try harder? much-

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