MY NAME IS MARY: A Memoir by Mary Fisher

MY NAME IS MARY: A Memoir

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This autobiography of an outspoken HIV-positive Republican and recovering alcoholic is moving when the author steers clear of hackneyed therapeutic language. Fisher (I'll Not Go Quietly, p. 684, etc.), a former Ford administration advance ""man"" and wealthy socialite from a prominent Republican family, has become a public symbol for the lesson that no one is immune to HIV. Fisher's life, despite her privilege, has been anything but easy. Her father abandoned her when she was very young, and much of her life has been spent trying to please Max Fisher, her mother's second husband, an emotionally distant man whose life was politics (he served as a close adviser to presidents Ford and Nixon). Her mother was an alcoholic, as was Mary, who also married twice. Both marriages ended in divorce; after the second divorce, she learned that her ex-husband had infected her with HIV. In her description of her treatment for alcoholism, the well-worn recovery narrative and its attendant jargon get tiresome. However, the excerpts from her speeches are powerful, as are her descriptions of speaking at the 1992 Republican convention and her last day with her dying ex-husband. Her political awakening, however, is only partly rendered: As she becomes part of the AIDS community, she loses friends to the disease, and she gets more critical of conservative responses to AIDS. Yet Fisher is too cautious, no doubt to protect her family and to maintain her political influence. She characterizes some Republican rhetoric on HIV-positive immigrants as ""grisly"" and condemns the Christian right for its moralism. But Fisher writes around other issues, leaving it unclear, for instance, whether she agrees with media accounts that portrayed her famous 1992 speech as the only moment of compassion in an otherwise vicious convention. Despite such gaps and predictable celebrity-in-recovery clich‚s, a strong memoir by a woman who has straddled fascinating contradictions.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Scribner