celebrity memoir, Memoirs, Uncategorized

Book Review: Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

“Do you know what St. Peter says to everyone who tries to get into heaven?”

“Peter says, ‘Don’t you have any scars?’ And when most would respond proudly, ‘Well, no, no I don’t,’ Peter says, ‘Why not? Was there nothing worth fighting for?”

I picked up this book because Chandler was always my favorite on Friends and I could not watch the reunion special because I could not believe how bad all the men aged. I wanted them all stuck in my head how they were when I watched the original show. Now, Friends premiered when I was 3, so obviously I watched it after it had ended and so avoided any knowledge of any of their private or celebrity news. I had no idea Mathew Perry was an addict until I picked up this book. Perry in this book is baring his addiction in such a glaring way that it is hard to read and yet, so hard to look away. I listened to this book on audio and could not listen all the way through. I could only do 2 hours at a time because the big terrible thing is really that big and terrible.

“I’m hopeless and awkward and desperate for love!”

A lot of fans know that a lot of Mathew Perry went into the character of Chandler on Friends. Mathew Perry is Chandler without Monica and without the twins at the end, but with the same baggage and an insane addiction problem. Perry takes us through his birth in America, his childhood in Canada with his mother who was Trudeau Sr. ‘s Chief of Staff when he was Prime Minister and then to his return to America to live with his father. Perry has had a roller coaster of a life. He started drinking at 15 and then never stopped. Every time he picked up any substance at all, he got addicted. There is no drug he hasn’t done, there is no amount of alcohol he hasn’t drunk, it’s actually quite insane to listen to. Perry spent most of his young life wanting desperately to be famous. He was actually getting steady work doing a lot of guest starring roles, shows that never led to anything while drinking his nights away with friends and sleeping with as many women as possible.

“Now, all these years later, I’m certain that I got famous so I would not waste my entire life trying to get famous. You have to get famous to know that it’s not the answer. And nobody who is not famous will ever truly believe that.”

I’m going to say something I don’t think anyone has ever said about a memoir but this book is too honest. Perry is so honest that I can see why people would consider him unlikeable after reading this book. He doesn’t pretend that he just loved acting and that’s all he wanted to do. Perry wanted to be famous. He longed for it, him and his friends would audition all day and then meet up at night to fantasize about being famous. Perry talked about his obsession with love. He was rarely ever single even through the worst of his addictions. He was either in a committed relationship or he was sleeping his way through Los Angeles. I can see why people would consider him a womanizer who objectifies women, but you don’t pick up a memoir about an addict looking for a saint. He would date amazing woman after amazing woman and break up with them before they had a chance to leave him. He would be at the cusp of proposing then crack a joke and then never do it.

Yes, he really is Chandler and it would be endearing and funny if he didn’t spend most of his time trying to escape reality through drugs and alcohol. Perry doesn’t make excuses about his mistakes. His story telling is very matter of fact. He tells you how much he’s spent on rehab. He tells you how most rehab are bullshit and he could sue them. If you’re looking for a humble man who is looking for forgiveness for his actions, you won’t find him here. Does Perry wish that he didn’t have this disease? Absolutely. But this book is not about convincing you that he is a good man who was riddled with this addiction. It is just a book about an addict.

“I was so often just a tourist in sobriety.”

There’s info about Friends and lovers, yes, but don’t pick up this book if that’s all you want scoop on. 75% of this book is about the big, terrible thing. This book desperately needed an editor. There are so many jokes that fell flat that should have never made it to the page. The Keanu Reeves joke for example. It made so many people mad that when I went to Goodreads to rate this book and saw so many 1 star ratings, I was so confused until I saw that some of them were mad about the Keanu quip (which Matthew Perry has apologised for). Also, this book was not linear so sometimes it left me confused, trying to figure out where we are at any particular time. Also a lot of it read as repetitive. Where were his editors? This book would have been so much better if it was thoroughly edited and a proper timeline worked out for all the events outlined in the book.

“If I drop my game, my Chandler, and show you who I really am, you might notice me, but worse, you might notice me and leave me. And I can’t have that. I won’t survive that.”

I felt sad after reading this book. It’s so hard to evaluate memoirs because how do you judge a person’s life story on a point system? I’m curious to see how reading this book is going to affect my further watching of Friends. I wonder if I’m going to still see my beloved Chandler Bing or if I’m going to be stuck staring into the crack Mathew has opened in this funny character. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads and based on the reviews I’ve seen about it, I will give one warning – do not read this book if you will be offended by the actions of an addict.


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