2022 reads, #54. So, the latest tell-all celebrity trainwreck memoir is here, this time from Friends star Matthew Perry, who turns out to have spent by his reckoning approximately seven million dollars over the years on rehab facilities and their associated private plane rides to and fro, to feed an uncontrollable liquor and opioid addiction that by all rights should've killed him several years ago (or at least according to the horrific tale that begins the book, in which his colon literally explodes, he goes into a coma for three days, and his family is told that he has an only 2% chance of surviving). The good news here is that it's clear Perry wrote this himself, versus the usual celebrity route of handing off a box of dictaphone tapes to some anonymous ghostwriter schmuck in Echo Park; but unfortunately the way you can tell this is that Perry's prose …
2022 reads, #54. So, the latest tell-all celebrity trainwreck memoir is here, this time from Friends star Matthew Perry, who turns out to have spent by his reckoning approximately seven million dollars over the years on rehab facilities and their associated private plane rides to and fro, to feed an uncontrollable liquor and opioid addiction that by all rights should've killed him several years ago (or at least according to the horrific tale that begins the book, in which his colon literally explodes, he goes into a coma for three days, and his family is told that he has an only 2% chance of surviving). The good news here is that it's clear Perry wrote this himself, versus the usual celebrity route of handing off a box of dictaphone tapes to some anonymous ghostwriter schmuck in Echo Park; but unfortunately the way you can tell this is that Perry's prose is at the level of a horny 14-year-old boy at Reddit, all questionable slang, toilet humor, and bravado over how many famous women he's slept with. (Another clue? Perry clearly meant to title this book Unaccompanied Minor, because of at least a dozen scenes that either symbolically or literally use the term [plus his admission in the introduction that "I was originally going to call this book Unaccompanied Minor"], but that the marketing team at Flatiron Press came to him afterwards and said, "Look, babe, the book needs to have 'Friends' in the title or we're simply not going to publish it," leading to a conceptually schizophrenic mess that could've only happened by Perry being the actual author, instead of some corporate-approved ghostwriter who was taking his cues directly from the publisher.)
As such, the book lacks profoundly as a simple literary read, but let's all admit that this isn't the reason people are reading it in the first place, but rather as the latest attempt to gawk at the rich and famous freaks out there in Los Angeles. And indeed, this memoir is literally a textbook confirmation of everything you've ever suspected about Hollywood -- that the only people with the chutzpah to devote their lives to the miniscule chance of becoming famous are those with crippling narcissism combined with non-existent self-esteem, exacerbated early in life by overcontrolling parents in a troubled marriage who pushed that child too hard too fast in order to compensate for their own ego issues. (It's no surprise that Perry turns out to have been a tennis prodigy while a child too, and that he actually tried out for Nick Bollettieri's infamous tennis child-pro factory in Florida before discovering that he didn't have the Agassi-type talent to make it nationally.) Such people greedily gobble their way through any intimacy and care the rest of the world may show them, casually tossing such people aside the moment their sympathy and help have been used up like a dirty Kleenex; and I have to admit, after watching him in this book do such a thing to literally a dozen ex-friends and ex-lovers, dismissing all his unconscionable behavior with a single wave of his hand while muttering, "I'm sick, what can I do," I found it impossible after reading this memoir to reach any other conclusion than that Perry is a human monster, and that his unsolvable addiction issues are some kind of divine retribution for all the damage he caused the human race on his rush to the bottom he's currently now at, where the only traction he can still get in the entertainment industry is by publishing one of these tawdry trainwreck tell-alls in the first place. (He essentially admits in the book that he's permanently persona non grata at the studios anymore, and that his attempts to shift his career into screenwriting in recent years has resulted in nothing but failure; and the cynical side of me suspects that part of the impetus behind writing this memoir at the moment he has, when he clearly is still not in control of his addiction, is so he can shift public perception so that people think of him as a writer now, to make his new attempt at screenwriting get a little more traction among the forever image-obsessed executives of the entertainment industry.)
Unfortunately this isn't one of those fun garbage-human trainwreck celebrity memoirs, but one of the depressing ones, a tale that makes it clear that Perry has lived a life of emotional misery almost since being born, and that not even decades of twice-weekly therapy and dozens of rehab detoxes have put even the slightest mental dent in his uncontrollable urge to shovel oxycodone and vodka into his mouth as fast as as his numb, bloated hands will let him. It did, however, make me feel much better about my own life, which I suppose is the whole point of these garbage-people bottoming-out memoirs to begin with. If you're to read it at all, it should be with this "let's gawk at the rich and famous freaks" attitude mentioned before.
P.S. Was reminded after reading other people's reviews of one of the most egregiously narcissistic things about this book, which is his literal dozen insistences throughout the manuscript that his unique line delivery style on Friends ("Could I BE any more of a hack?") forever and permanently changed the entire American vernacular of how we as a collective nation speak conversational English, which he doesn't mean as a joke or an exaggeration at all (or as one reviewer here put it, "He seems to genuinely believe that he singlehandedly invented sarcasm"), which is about as good an example as possible of the cartoonishly inflated ego combined with deep self-hatred that fuels this entire manuscript. And yeah, as long as we're on the subject, what's up with his habit of throwing in a random half-hearted reference to Christianity once every 30 pages or so like clockwork, as if that Flatiron marketing team from before said during the editing process, "Oh yes, and we're also trying to target the Trump Conservative Christian crowd in all our newest books, so if you could make semi-regular references to how Jesus is your best buddy or some other nonsense like that, that'd be great, Mr. Perry."