& The Big Terrible Thing
When I heard about this book, my first thought was ‘another celebrity memoir out as we head into the Christmas run-up. But there was more to it.
I had a sense of inquisitiveness before this book came out. I’ve watched Matthew Perry in Friends. I’ve seen him in Studio 60 with Bradley Whitford. I’ve seen him play lawyer Joe Quincy, in the West Wing. His addiction issues were documented throughout media, but this was to be his story. Straight from the horses mouth.
What was I going to get when I bought the book?
When a book opens with “Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead” you know that you’re in for a wild ride.
When I read an autobiography, my first thought is always, ‘I wonder how honest the author is being’, but the time I got a few pages in, this quote jumped out. “I don’t write all this so anyone will feel sorry for me – I write these words because they are true.” There was my answer.
While I have always been a Friends fan, I found easy to separate Chandler and Matty, even with the odd Chandler-expression creeping in. One in particular that jumps to mind is when he describes opening the door to Julia Roberts. His comment “oh, that Julia Roberts” – classic Chandler-esque. But, if Friends stories are what you’re after, this book isn’t it. This book is a dark journey down the addiction path, and a brutal look at the character of a man.
By taking a very long walk down the addiction highway, Matty reveals exactly who he is to the reader. Was that the intention? Or was it an exercise for Matty to find out for himself, who he really was under the addiction/Friends/women cloak he’d covered himself in over the years? Maybe we’ll never know
What it has shown though, is someone who uses humour as his defence mechanism. It’s shown someone with a certain level of arrogance and ego in life. It’s shown a man with commitment issues and a lack of confidence. Its shown insecurities in Matty, that may not have been visible to him until reflecting while writing. It’s shown someone who has taken many years to realise that addiction is an illness that he’ll fight with forever.
But the thing that was heartbreaking for me, it showed a lonely man.
Matty says “Still, I do find myself longing for a companion, a romantic one. Insert here a few specifications that he has!! That’s all I ask. A teammate.
To admit that loneliness, that need, also takes a brave man.
I’ve read many reviews on this book that criticise Mattys ‘name dropping’, the fact that he has had many girlfriends, his addiction, and the money he spent in rehab. But I wonder if those people considered the title before criticising those things. It’s called “Friends, Lovers and the big terrible thing.” What were these reviewers expecting? A fluffy memoir about a perfect child in Canada with the perfect life and all the gossip about Friends?
The book jumps around in timeframes. It’s not a consistent read from birth to current times, but this does not inflict on the standard of it in my view. Matty is brutally honest throughout, unflinching in manner. He does not hesitate to criticise the things he feels and has done wrong in life. He knows he isn’t perfect, and that he has treated some people poorly. But he owns it, he stands up and admits what he has done. The book is written in some ways like a conversation. It’s almost as if you could be sitting having a coffee with Matty in his house while he is telling you his stories. With his writing style, that shines through as he says “did I mention that??”, just as you would when talking.
Matthew Perry is using his words to help others. This quote from his book is a perfect example where he says “Someday you, too, might be called upon to do something important, so be ready for it.”
Your mistakes and your experiences can teach you tough lessons through life. In another part of his book, he stated that he knew he had a story to tell.
He certainly did.
Thank you Matty for your candour. Thank you for your brevity. Thank you for your movie and tv work. Thank you for making the world laugh and smile. Most of all, thank you for the brutal honesty in the way you shared your addiction journey.
If one person reads the book, and gets help because of your words, what a gift you have given.