Few people are sillier than movie stars with delusions of literature — Joan Collins and Thomas Tryon come to mind. But Carrie Fisher is the real thing: an actor of consequence who writes good Novels — seriously, folks. Surrender the Pink is a fictionalized portrait of Tinseltown life, but it’s not gossipy trash. It’s thoughtful gossip, a grave, witty inquiry into the nature of romance, a study of why it is that, once you fall in love, the emotion sticks to your face like one of Soupy Sales’ pies.
Fisher has admitted that her novel is in some part a roman à clef based on bits of her own life and extensive interviews with her major-player Hollywood pals. Her heroine, Dinah Kaufman, a writer of a soap opera called ”Heart’s Desire,” has had certain of Fisher’s experiences: a teenage sexcapade in Vegas, an eccentric mom with a smart mouth, a dad who ran off when she was a toddler, leaving her with the lifelong belief that ”sex was for men, and marriage, like lifeboats, was for women and children.” Dinah meets her match (famous playwright Rudy Gendler, who has only one or two traits in common / with Paul Simon), loses him to a sweet young thing and kvetches about him to all her friends. In a painful, amusing scene akin to one in Saul Bellow’s Herzog, she hunts the couple down and spies on their snug domestic life: He’s contentedly self-absorbed while she whips up dinner, merrily crooning the theme song to The Flintstones.
In some ways, Surrender is a novice’s novel: the plot is haphazard, and Fisher has a screenwriter’s disinterest in physical description and social context. Her novel is all talk — chaotic, out-of-control, idiosyncratically eloquent, consistently interesting. By nature she has what hordes of writing-school grad students would kill for: a voice of her own.
The novel’s most self-revelatory moment is when Dinah confesses to Rudy that her head resembles a piñata. The metaphor captures the spirit of Fisher’s mind, as well as her book: Crack it and there’s no telling what bright prizes will spill out in rich disorder all over the floor. B+
From Surrender the Pink
This is why Dinah was bad with men. When she was very little, about two, her father went away. She hardly ever saw him after that, maybe once a year. See, her and her mom didn’t get along and besides, he’d moved far away. Anyway, after he left, she waited for him to come back, She made herself wonderful for his return. And whenver she saw him on his once-a-year visits, she’d put on her best behavior so he’d love her. Because she hardly ever saw him, he grew daily in her mind, a paternal tumor on her imagination. She loved — she worshipped — the father she made up in her mind. The father she created in fantasy grew more intricate with each passing day, until finally she had created two monsters — the father she never had — and the daughter he should have never left.