Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing Book Summary - Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing Book explained in key points
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Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing summary

Matthew Perry

A Memoir

4.5 (434 ratings)
16 mins
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    Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing
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    A troubled childhood left Matthew Perry on an unfortunate path.

    On a stormy Tuesday night in 1969, one day after the end of Woodstock and a month after the Moon Landing, Matthew Langford Perry came into the world screaming – and didn’t stop.

    His parents – a folk singer and a beauty queen – were quickly driven crazy by their colicky son. Concerned and overwhelmed by the constant crying, they took the baby to a doctor. This was how little Matthew Perry, at the developmentally critical age of two months, came to be prescribed the major barbiturate phenobarbitol.

    Needless to say, the crying stopped – but this would be the first of many times that Matthew’s problem was fixed with a substance instead of by learning to do the internal work.

    At nine months Matthew’s parents broke up, and he was left with his 21-year-old mother while his father pursued his dreams of becoming an actor in California. As Matthew grew up, he learned to be an entertainer and a caretaker – to try and please people and make them laugh.

    He found himself fighting for the attention of his mother, who was kept busy as the press secretary for the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. When his mother had another baby, Matthew started feeling like he didn’t belong in the family, and that's when the behavior problems began. He had problems at school because he smoked and got into fights. At one point he even beat up the son of his mother’s boss – the future prime minister Justin Trudeau.

    But one of the most significant events of his childhood came at the age of 14: his first drink. He was with two friends – brothers Chris and Brian Murray. No one was home, and for whatever reason, they decided to get drunk. They got hold of a six-pack of beer and a bottle of wine, and finished it all in 15 minutes in Matthew’s backyard.

    As you might expect, the brothers began vomiting. But Matthew’s experience was different. He simply lay on his back, in the grass, looking at the moon, and something changed. He realized that, for the first time in his life, everything was fine. The world made sense, all his problems were gone, and he was happier than he had ever been.

    While this revelation didn’t immediately lead to regular heavy drinking, it was in that moment that the seed was sown – the seed that would lead to what he calls the Big Terrible Thing, or alcoholism and addiction.

    You see, Matthew Perry suffers from anhedonia – he can’t enjoy anything unless it’s exciting… or he’s drunk.

    But all this will come later. At 15 years old, Matthew is angry, fighting with his mom, and feeling alienated in Canada. He decides to move to LA to get to know his father and see if Hollywood can fill the gaping hole inside him.

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    What is Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing about?

    Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing (2022) is the intimate memoir of critically acclaimed actor Matthew Perry. From his troubled childhood to his meteoric rise to fame in the hit sitcom Friends to his lifelong struggle with substance abuse and addiction, Perry holds nothing back as he reveals his life, thoughts, and soul.

    Who should read Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing?

    • Friends fans looking for a deeper insight into one of the show's strongest comedic voices
    • People curious about the darker side of celebrity lives
    • Anyone struggling with addiction

    About the Author

    Matthew Perry is a Canadian-American actor, producer, and playwright. Best known for playing the character Chandler Bing in the Emmy Award–winning sitcom Friends, Perry has also starred in many successful Hollywood films, including 17 Again, Fools Rush In, and The Whole Nine Yards.

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