A discreetly positioned placard should warn anyon approaching the vicinity of Carrie Fisher: "Caution:Words at Play."
She says: "I want to have values, instead of just being valuable."
And: "I seem to take the right things in the wrong way."
And: "It's not what you're given, it's how you take it."
Ms. Fisher, as evidenced in her novels "Postcards from the Edge" and the new "Surrender the Pink," as well as her screenplay for the movie "Postcards from the Edge," which opens today, has a thing about verbal acuity.
She hones her prowess in the company she keeps. Ms. Fisher's friends read like a hip Intelligentsia Invitational Open: David Mamet, Meg Wolitzer, J.D. Souther, Penny Marshall, Don Henley, Dawn Steel, Meryl Streep -- all being people who, at the very least, think they're smart.
"I want to be a good writer, but I want more to be a better friend," she says. "I want to keep up with a well-kept group."
Her intellectual ferocity, and her friendships, are an emphatic note in the life of Ms. Fisher, a woman better known in other lights. Her father, Eddie Fisher, did leave her mother, Debbie Reynolds, for Elizabeth Taylor in '58. She did marry, then divorce, Paul Simon. She was Princess Leia in "Star Wars." And she did undergo rehabilitation for a nasty drug habit.
The perception of Ms. Fisher as a daughter of darkness can easily be sustained through a viewing of "Postcards," a movie markedly different from the book in that it concentrates on the mother/daughter relationship. In the Debbie Reynolds role is Shirley MacLaine, overbearing, intrusive and possibly alcoholic. In the Carrie Fisher role is Meryl Streep, lost on the way to being found.
Ms. Fisher says the movie script is less balanced than her book. "I feel the argument weighed heavier against the mother in the movie, through the performances, and the editing, which I don't think is fair, given that I have ... a very public mother," says Ms. Fisher. "She's going to have to answer to that and I feel enormously guilty.
"My mother is so fantastic that she can sit and watch that movie and say: 'Honey, give yourself a break, or let me give to you the one that you can't. Do not feel bad about this. I don't. It's a great movie.' I don't need a better mother than that. That's the one I need."
Ms. Fisher says she has felt pressure in her life, in her marriage, to be an "intellectual geisha" defined as: "A passive scholar with wit willing to adapt herself totally to his world and to work in a traditional way on a relationship where the male is much more important and it orbits around his moods."
And she has resisted it. "I'm not a companion in that way. If you're going out with me you will go hungry, but you won't go bored."
As she says, "Two yangs don't make a right. Paul [Simon] and I were both yangs. Maybe I should start going to the yin clubs: 'Hey you, a little light in the loafers, a little lonely in the hair. You look like you might like to massage my feet, like you'd want me to win.'"
Whether or not someone wants her to win, she is. While Ms. Fisher is writing as fast as she can, she has also answered the call to the set of late. Last seen in "When Harry Met Sally ...," she says she's acting "for the money. The money and the sense of community."
Well-versed in Hollywood physics, she knows that hot blows cold, and having been born into the drop-off of her mother's career, she proceeds with caution on "a journey that ultimately leads downhill, and when it does, you hope you will be armed with things that have sustaining values, like friends and family and a life as opposed to a lifestyle."
Ms. Fisher, so successful she is receiving her due and possibly someone else's, too, believes insecurity finds you wherever you are in life and hence her ideal state is what it has always been: "asleep.
"Asleep with a good dream."