Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK BY TIME, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, GOODREADS, USA TODAY, AND MORE!
The beloved star of Friends takes us behind the scenes of the hit sitcom and his struggles with addiction in this candid, funny, and revelatory memoir that delivers a powerful message of hope and persistence.
“Hi, my name is Matthew, although you may know me by another name. My friends call me Matty. And I should be dead.”
So begins the riveting story of acclaimed actor Matthew Perry, taking us along on his journey from childhood ambition to fame to addiction and recovery in the aftermath of a life-threatening health scare. Before the frequent hospital visits and stints in rehab, there was five-year-old Matthew, who traveled from Montreal to Los Angeles, shuffling between his separated parents; fourteen-year-old Matthew, who was a nationally ranked tennis star in Canada; twenty-four-year-old Matthew, who nabbed a coveted role as a lead cast member on the talked-about pilot then called Friends Like Us. . . and so much more.
In an extraordinary story that only he could tell—and in the heartfelt, hilarious, and warmly familiar way only he could tell it—Matthew Perry lays bare the fractured family that raised him (and also left him to his own devices), the desire for recognition that drove him to fame, and the void inside him that could not be filled even by his greatest dreams coming true. But he also details the peace he’s found in sobriety and how he feels about the ubiquity of Friends, sharing stories about his castmates and other stars he met along the way. Frank, self-aware, and with his trademark humor, Perry vividly depicts his lifelong battle with addiction and what fueled it despite seemingly having it all.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing is an unforgettable memoir that is both intimate and eye-opening—as well as a hand extended to anyone struggling with sobriety. Unflinchingly honest, moving, and uproariously funny, this is the audiobook fans have been waiting for.
A Macmillan Audio production from Flatiron Books.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 49 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||November 01 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #22 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Film & TV
#3 in Entertainment & Celebrity Biographies
#3 in Entertainer
Reviewed in Canada on March 22, 2023
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Top reviews from Canada
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I hesitate to call the book a memoir because I believe that Matthew Perry has much wisdom to teach us. For example, Perry experienced whether or not he was worthy of love, or able to commit to a woman without being left first. So Perry thought he was not enough to have a meaningful relationship with a person who understood the man. All of us had been there or another at some point in our lives.
Perry's alcohol and drug abuse was not a cry for help; however, looking for happiness and calmness within himself like warm honey. I am not making any excuses for Matthew Perry, but addiction is an unknown place to people who are not educated about this disease. Still, it is a sadistic love affair that you should not be having and you know you will be in trouble. But, unfortunately, the beast wins.
I am thankful that Perry has beaten the odds and striving as an excellent writer and storyteller.
I hope that Matthew Perry finds love because everyone deserves love.
Top reviews from other countries
This book really leaves you with a “I don’t know what how to feel about this book” feeling at the end of it. For the most part due to the way it just jumps all over the place in terms of time and sheer self-destruction. One minute you’re rooting for MP as he achieves his hopes and dreams of sitcom super (or, “stupor”) stardom. To the next minute wanting to go up to the Hollywood Hills (or whatever house he’s living in this month, he changes houses like people change socks) and slap him in the head and say, “What the hell is the Matthew matter with you!”
That being said, it’s not like any of this went undocumented back in the day. No matter the amount of trouble he found himself in, there’s no way that I couldn’t read this, as I consider Perry in the same upper echelon ranks of physical comedic performer as a John Ritter. And has always reminded me delivery wise of a Michael Keaton (whom he cites as his favorite actor, by the way, so I guess that makes sense). What he brought as a performer, and not just Chandler but everything he does, is an inherent (or inherited?) ability to not just expertly time his lines and incorporate a facial reaction, but his particular physical movements were something to behold. Never forced, never stolen, it was all him with the gesture of an arm or breaking into a pee-inducing dance of hilarity, he was of the Michael J Fox (another guy he mentions in his book) school of comedy: you give the guy one joke, he gets three laughs.
I mean, I go back with this guy as a viewer. From his minor role in A Night in the life of Jimmy Reardon, to when he died on Growing Pains. Which I found a bit of a disappointment, that he never mentioned his time on that show. Especially for somebody who suffers from such a horrendous alcohol addiction, as his character actually drunk drove himself into the hospital and subsequently dies, leading to one of the more disquieting moments in the show’s history when his death is revealed.
Now, addiction is addiction, but the almost braggadocios way he wears it like a badge of honor becomes nearly unbearable. He nearly turns it into a drinking game. Every time he says he took 55 Vicodin, you take a shot. Every time he says he got scared of being close to a woman and ditched her, take a shot. Every time he tells you how beloved Friends is and that he changed the vernacular of the entire country (which I lived through and do not remember), take a shot. You’ll be dead before chapter 12.
There are numerous moments of uplifting achievements, which are only to be negated a sentence later due to utter lunacy and illogical reason. It qualifies him as something of a medical marvel because they ARE of reason to an addict. The bit about scavenging the homes for sale I thought was his dastardly pinnacle. But the flying back and forth to Switzerland officially reaches evil genius status and definitely takes the cake (or flan). And just when you think he is on the right track he derails just one more time into the same repetitive, self-destructive patterns again and again. Which brings the book to its most aggravating aspect as it becomes so incredibly redundant about only halfway through. Even to the point where either Perry while in writing mode was still sifting through his lucid moments, or it was his editor who was the one popping pills. Because several passages word for word (including the infamous Keanu Reeves statement) get repeated a handful of times throughout the book to where YOU end up screaming at your Kindle, “is it him or am I the one who’s crazy??”
But as far as the uplifting stuff there’s, of course, his relocation from Canada in his teens and his slow-burn rise to fame with all of the 80s either guest appearances or failed pilots. Right to the point of the Chandler audition, which actually cost him a close friendship because a buddy of his was up for the part, resulting in the two not speaking for three years. Ah, but then comes the fun house of fame, fortune and f***king (LOTS of f***ing f***ing. I think he banged more girls than Joey!), all of which he doesn’t fail to mention to you at least once a chapter as to the quantity of how much brain he gave away.
And, in the biggest “Yet” of “Yets,” somehow ends up at his laptop in the modern day telling us this exact story, even after a years-of-abuse perforated bowel that nearly killed him. Which can only leave you in the end so very concerned for his future, a future that he’s really drawn up for himself in terms of eventually finding solid love and having babies. Though only 53, who knows how much of that future he will actually see.
So, Mr. Matthew Langford Perry, aka Chandler Muriel Bing, thank you for opening up to us. Even if it did re-define the very picture of hopeless and awkward and desperate for love (his words, not mine).
And I rarely read autobiographies, or what people usually call "memoirs" nowadays. I usually am reading true-crime books, in particular those about serial killers. I did read "C'mon, Get Happy: Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus" (CGH) from David Cassidy in 2021 and I actually liked Mr. Cassidy LESS after reading his memoir. I kind of wish I wouldn't have read CGH and just remembered him instead from his time on the show. It's just that I found Mr. Cassidy to be a bit of a braggart while reading and while I finished CGH I was struggling to even care towards the end. I'm guessing that Susan Dey felt the same. Ahem.
Now, rarely does Matthew Perry "brag" during "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir" (FLB) about himself. He does discuss how much money he made during filming of "Friends," and I don't have a problem with that, mostly because he discusses how David Schwimmer actually was instrumental in negotiating a great deal for the entire cast and not just for Mr. Schwimmer. In reality Mr. Perry is far more self-deprecating in FLB than Mr. Cassidy is in CGH. Mr. Perry doesn't seem to hide much when it comes to his struggles with addiction and if he does underplay it, well, he must be REALLY bad. Mr. Perry discusses how he was taking up to 55 pain killers a day and that is extreme. For those who don't know, pain killers tend to dry you out and slow down digestion so I have no idea how someone could take that many for any length of time and survive.
Well, Mr. Perry almost didn't survive.
Mr. Perry was rushed by a friend from one of his many stints in rehab to the hospital and the people running the rehab facility tried to stop him. If they had been successful Mr. Perry surely would've died. Heck, he still should've died in the hospital even though he had probably the best care that money could buy. From memory he said that only "two percent of people survive on the machine required to keep him alive," and I think he also called it a "Hail Mary."
Overall I really liked FLB and I actually read it in one day. As a matter of fact I couldn't sleep last night and kept picking up my Kindle device and would continue reading. Usually readers might say, "I couldn't put it down!" but I might say, "I couldn't leave it down." Over and over I picked up my device, opened the Kindle app, and continued from my last bookmark. Luckily for me Kindle apps save the bookmark for me and that's only one of the reasons I tend to almost only read digital. I will buy a paperback or a hardcover version but only if I MUST read a book and there is no digital version.
But still FLB is not a "perfect book," far from it. Towards the end I think that Mr. Perry starts to repeat himself and I got the feeling that he was on a tight deadline and just hammered out the last few chapters. I don't know if he first created an outline -- I think that all authors should do so at an early phase in writing -- but I think a good outline would've really helped create a more polished effort. It's also the case that Mr. Perry has a tendency to use too many parentheticals and that becomes a bit of a distraction for the reader.
Not that it bothers me but it might bother some readers: Mr. Perry does discuss religion, or at least God, quite a bit towards the end. If religion is a turnoff, I think that FLB may not be for you. Mr. Perry does seem to think that God helped keep him alive, maybe even helped him break some addictions, and that is fine by me. I can't prove it either way, and it is Mr. Perry's memoir, so he has a right to think and write whatever he chooses. Personally, I appreciate his honesty.
Mr. Perry does admit going into open houses and swiping pain meds from home sellers and that reminded me a lot of Ryan Leaf. I think that Mr. Leaf used to do the same thing and it got that ex-NFL player quite a few years in prison for it. From a legal standpoint if I were Mr. Perry, and I were writing a memoir, I think I might not have disclosed this. I am not a lawyer and I don't know what legal troubles it could cause him now.
There has been quite a bit of noise about how Mr. Perry tends to "kiss and tell" and I think that's overblown a bit. He does discuss how he and Valerie Bertinelli made out within just a few feet of Eddie Van Halen, after Mr. Van Halen had passed out from drinking too much wine. Hey, I guess I've been there myself so I won't judge. Um, from Mr. Van Halen's perspective and not necessarily from Mr. Perry's. But Mr. Perry doesn't really dwell on it too much. I can understand how Ms. Bertinelli feels about the disclosure although of course Mr. Van Halen is no longer with us. If Mr. Van Halen were still alive I believe that Mr. Perry probably wouldn't even bring it up. Just a guess.
Well, if you're a fan of "Friends" and Matthew Perry, and you like to read memoirs, I'll give a fairly strong recommendation for "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing." If you don't fit that criteria perhaps you might want to read something else. But if you're a fan of David Cassidy from "The Partridge Family" I'll recommend you pass on his memoir. Sometimes it's better to only remember the good things about your heroes, after all.
This is a list of some of the substances he used.
Constant crying from colic Mathew was drugged with
phenobarbital so his parents could sleep.
At one point he was addicted to six milligrams of Ativan a day.
Oxy is what blew up Mathew's colon. The warm honey feeling he describes from the oxy paralyzes the gut bringing on depression and anxiety. At one point Mathew did sixty pills a day. My Dad suffered from Oxy. I experienced it too.
All this stuff impacts mood. Depression, fear, anxiety. Fear of depression, anxiety and fear. The same feelings of abandonment, fear and anxiety a small child feels [I felt] when I became aware I was abandoned. These feelings are alive and well in Mathew's and my body and they can be triggered by 'something happening good or bad' I don't like to leave my house because just pulling out of my driveway is stressful.
After reading the book I can better understand myself and my Dad. I was not present for my life and I mistreated the people I love while seeking relief from my addiction/discomfort. I even became co-dependent in recovery by trying to replace the substances with gurus. I too had the spiritual experience that made me feel completely loved and free from my insanity. It lasted until I tried to talk about it with other people who did not "get it". I was distracted by their lack of appreciation for what I was saying.
After reading this book I feel like I have been in rehab for a week. I see my disease better. Mathew Perry lived the unbelievable nightmare of mental illness and lived to tell about it. We focus on the substance when that substance is really just an attempt to treat the real problem. Is self-awareness of the core issue enough to free oneself from the intolerable agony of having paralyzing feelings of being discarded and fearing it will happen again and again. Even if only just by the president of the PTA. Isolation is the only way I knew to protect myself from fulfilling the prophecy my sister made to me. She said I would never have any friends. I was eight years old. She was nine. I believed her. I was all alone on Rancho Drive. I had no friends not even my sister. Just the word "friends" can trigger my discomfort. No matter how many people I call friend I can not dispel that belief. The big secret I carry is I believe I have no value. When people treat me as though I have no value I want to die. Mathew said it annihilated him to be left. Annihilated describes the feeling I want to avoid the most. Until now I could not think of a word strong enough to convey my discomfort. Annihilation feels right. Sadly, whenever I risked talking about this belief, I was told to "get over it". That would be fine accept it is who I think I am. Can I just get over it?
What or how would I know if I were over it?
"I want God to always be there for me now, whenever I clear my channel to feel his awesomeness."
I hope you read the book.
And so when Friends, Lovers and The Big Terrible Thing begins we are at a crisis moment in Matthew Perry's life. It was 2018 and as he tells us his colon ruptured due to years of opioid use. It was a life threatening situation and after this dramatic opening some readers may decide they've had enough. But that would be a mistake.
I know for myself that I learned alot not only about Perry's struggles with substance abuse which is the major part of the book but also about his childhood growing up in Ottawa and Los Angeles. He had plan as a teenager to become a tennis pro but realized he was good but would never be great. And so following in his father's footsteps he decided to give acting a try. He loved it and was great at it. We learn about Perry's audition for Friends and he continues to be extremely grateful for his time on the show and remains close with the cast and crew to this day.
And that is what is so admirable about this memoir because as hard as Matthew Perry can be on himself, he is very generous when talking about his parents, siblings, friends, girlfriends, co-stars. This is a serious memoir about addiction and I finished the book wanting the best for Matthew Perry and if a reader is a fan of Chandler I think knowing about the actor who portrayed him will not disappoint. I recommend Friends, Lovers and The Big Terrible Thing and I believe its a book that will help people.
This is an honest account of addiction and I applaud Mr Perry for bravely sharing his life in this way. Having known people with addiction, who sadly did not make it, I am grateful that this book shines a light, not only for other addicts (therefore showing you are not alone and even the rich and famous can have their lives ruined by drugs and alcohol) but also to the judgemental who have no idea what addiction is.
I feel sad that he has gone through so much and, what should have been an amazing experience i.e Friends, was overshadowed by an intense loneliness and foreboding. And yet, he still battles on (how incredible addicts are each day they say no) and aims to help others because that's what life is about.
This is not a literary masterpiece but it is, I believe, more important than that because it is an honest account of a man's battle through life.