David Marc Fischer
January 26, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

Lauded by Norman Mailer as the ”Republican princess” who struck chords of compassion at the GOP’s nasty 1992 national convention, Mary Fisher remains an earnest advocate of AIDS awareness. In My Name is Mary: A Memoir she describes her life before, during, and after her ”thirteen minutes of fame” at the Houston rally. Fisher tells how love, friendship, and faith — as well as professional counseling — helped her and her family grapple with the challenges of divorce, substance abuse, and her own HIV-positive status. Although much of the memoir is sketchy (she refers repeatedly to her alcoholism without detailing its actual impact), Fisher offers some fascinating glimpses of the political elite. Her friends Gerald and Betty Ford come across as compassionate and kind, but other prominent figures — like Jerry Falwell, who she says ”declined” to shake Fisher’s hand at a Bush White House Christmas function — don’t exactly personify the Republican party’s vision of a kinder, gentler nation. C+

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