three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
10-May-June-2004
user_rating: 
0

A-BestAwfulWisecracking Suzanne Vale (author Carrie Fisher's alter ego) continues the story she began in 1987's Postcards From the Edge. These days she's attempting to manage her husband's recent betrayal and her gig as a talk show host, while at the same time maintaining a happy home for her young daughter. It's a tall order. When she decides the pills she takes for manic-depression are sapping both her energy and sex drive, her trajectory into madness (and the Shady Lanes psychiatric hospital) becomes inevitable.
Simon & Schuster. 288 pages. $24.

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Memoirs have been written about manic depression from the relative safety of recovered sanity, but The Best Awful takes the reader inside the sickness, and ... it's an incredibly harrowing experience just to process the printed words." Carolyn See

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As quirky as it is, The Best Awful is completely successful in describing one woman's journey into hell. Fisher's comic tone takes the edge off her grim subject matter, yet she is fearless in blowing society's lid off psychosis." Susan Wickstrom

New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The breakdown [Fisher] describes appears to be her own. ... This tartly funny book is off to the races, inviting readers to tag along on a wild manic ride." Janet Maslin

Los Angeles Times 3 of 5 Stars
"[Fisher's] intelligence and humor, sometimes wicked, sometimes winningly self-deprecating, are matched by a no-nonsense quality: We feel that across the divides of fame and wealth, she's leveling with us." Michael Harris

Minneapolis Star Trib 3 of 5 Stars
"Pick up The Best Awful and you'll be hard-pressed to put it down. Maybe it's the Hollywood gossip. Maybe it's the snappy dialogue. Maybe it's the run-on sentences." Colleen Kruse

Entertainment Weekly 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Fisher's prose is trademark snappy and free-associative. ... But there is something disconcertingly blue and lost beneath the book's hectic charms..." Michael Harris

Critical Summary

Most reviewers praise The Best Awful for its nerve-wracking depiction of insanity and commend Fisher for her honesty. Though she's a sharp and witty writer throughout the novel, Fisher drops a few story lines during her narrator's frenzied journey and cheats readers out of a realistic ending. Unlike Postcards, this sequel does not address Hollywood self-absorption, but focuses solely on Suzanne, with less success. "The deceptive banality of the plot obscures for a while the reality that The Best Awful is about agony," notes The Washington Post. And Fisher understands pain very well.