Delusions of Grandma
by Carrie Fisher
Simon & Schuster
Princess Leia has had a baby and fictionalized it. Carrie Fisher, author and screenwriter of Postcards From the Edge and Surrender the Pink has again made art imitate life by using her own life as the source for her latest novel, Delusions of Grandma. The absolute Hollywood insider, Fisher had a baby, so her novel is having one too.
Fisher's alter ego is the screenwriter Cora. In letters to her unborn baby scattered throughout the story, we find out she's naming the baby Esme, even though it sounds like a noise her nose makes, and we learn that the she can't resist cracking a joke about serious things. Cora also leads what she calls a "noisy life" full of parties and problems and oodles of self-absorption. This cycle dominates, except of course, when she is forced to make room for the plot.
Held loosely together by the letters to Esme, the story unfolds clumsily in the three disparate parts. First, Cora falls in love with the attentive Southerner Ray but is just too darn neurotic to make it work. They try to save their relationship by nursing her dying friend William through the last stages of AIDS. When William dies, the relationship falls apart, but it's OK because Cora doesn't miss Ray much; she has rationalized it all away.
Delusions is most intriguing when Fisher delights you with a good line. In the beginning, Delusions feels chock full of them:
"Someone summered in my stomach,
Someone's fallen through my legs.
To make an infant omelet
Simply scramble sperm and eggs."
At times Cora's cracks painfully reflect her tension. She writes to Esme, "I am resigned to the fact that you will like your father better than you like me. Hell, for a long time I liked him better than me and that was after living with him better part of a year, which doesn't exactly endear people to you as a rule (ask around)." Poor Cora, she alienates Ray with her cynical humor and is left to the less interesting two-thirds of Delusions.