cover image THE BEST AWFUL


Carrie Fisher, , read by the author. . Simon & Schuster Audio, $26 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-88538-0

Fisher's (Postcards from the Edge , etc.) powerful and partly autobiographical tale of mental illness translates brilliantly to audio, thanks in large part to the author's skillful narration. From the first few lines ("Suzanne Vale had a problem, and it was the one she least liked thinking about. She'd had a child with someone who forgot to tell her he was gay"), Fisher's voice dances on the edge between desperation and hilarity, perfectly capturing the precarious mental state of Suzanne, a former actress, recovering drug addict and talk show host for an obscure cable channel. The only bright spot in Suzanne's life is Honey, her sweet six-year-old daughter. Fisher elegantly and energetically spears the Hollywood lifestyle and traces Suzanne's rocky path from just barely keeping it together to the full psychotic breakdown that lands her in the Shady Lanes loony bin. At times, the novel feels like a bunch of darkly comic anecdotes somewhat haphazardly strung together, but Fisher's warm voice and smart, sardonic delivery will keep listeners riveted all the way through to the story's hopeful, albeit disjointed, conclusion. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (Forecasts, Nov. 17, 2003). (Jan.)