Readers’ Corner: Favorite memoirs
By Bonnie McCune & Kathleen Duhamel~
Wishful Drinking. Actor/author Carrie Fisher’s 2009 memoir is a hilarious, intimate look into her tumultuous life growing up as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and film legend Debbie Reynolds. She was a young child when her father ran off with his (deceased) best friend’s wife, Elizabeth Tayor, turning her life into chaos. At 19, she became a cultural icon (and best-selling action figure) with her career-defining role as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Fisher doesn’t shy away from sharing her struggles with mental illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse, along with her failed marriage to music legend Paul Simon.
Memoirs of a Geisha. Arthur Golden’s 1999 debut novel is the exquisitely detailed account of Nitta Sayuri, a young girl in 1929 China who is sold into slavery at a geisha house. There, she excels at her training, ultimately usurping her biggest rival. Golden leads readers into a dark culture that sells a girl’s virginity to the highest bidder, and where women like Nitta must use their beauty, wits, and social skills to secure a powerful benefactor and escape their unstable lives. This book’s beautiful prose and attention to detail elevate it to the realm of literary fiction.
A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains contains the memoirs of British explorer Isabella Bird. Contrary to stereotypes of refined ladies avoiding strenuous exercise, traveling alone, or mixing with the locals, she describes her 1873 trip to the West, during which she crossed mountains on horseback. Estes Park looms large in the story, as does a romantic fling with Rocky Mountain Jim. Through letters to her sister, she highlights this trip, just one of many to exotic locations. Numerous publications followed, despite health problems that dogged her. She became the first woman to be elected to the Royal Geographical Society.