a) A fatuous, wasted, degenerate and wholly useless existence captured in delicate, lyrical and exquisitely realised prose.
b) Lightly amusing anecdotes and tender reminiscences of the great men and women encountered during a rich, varied and rewarding lifetime, fondly remembered in the tranquil evening of a career of public service.
c) The autobiography of a dizzying life fuelled by the lust for power and the search for ever more degrading downward paths of repulsive sexual adventuring and self-destructive debaucheries: the unrepentant libertine author seeks revenge on his many enemies and tears the lid off the private life of blameless churchmen and librarians.
Fry`s autobiography is all and none of these. Too old to rock and roll, too young to die, the author looks back with bruising frankness at his life so far.
©1997 Stephen Fry (P)1997 Random House Audio
"Stephen Fry is one of the great originals. This autobiography of his first twenty years is a pleasure to read, mixing outrageous acts with sensible opinions in bewildering confusion. That so much outward charm, self-awareness and intellect should exist alongside behaviour that threatened to ruin the lives of innocent victims, noble parents and Fry himself, gives the book a tragic grandeur and lifts it to classic status." (Financial Times)
"He writes superbly about his family, about his homosexuality, about the agonies of childhood - some of his bursts of smile take the breath away - his most satisfying and appealing book so far." (Observer)
Fry has used this first autobiography to exorcise cohorts of personal demons while offering short guided tours into the dark labyrinth of a genius mind.
I found it both fascinating and disturbing, and like another reviewer could hardly bear to put it down.
Fry writes brilliantly for most of the time. Some of his descriptive passages take on a beauty of their own.
But prepare to ride along with Fry the fox, Fry the weasel, and Fry the most honest and open human being imaginable. Look as close as you might but there are few signs of the genial and donnish presenter of QI to come.
He takes the trend in many recent autobiographies of opening the heart to the world a good deal further. He lays his entrails on the table and dissects in excruciating detail with verbal tweezers, sparing us nothing.
There is a road map of sorts through his school days but prepare for him sometimes to stray off the track, creating turgid pools of quotes, lists and vile rants.
Understanding his well publicised battle with bi-polarity helps separate the parts written while in pits of despair from those soaring the peaks of creative ecstasy. On difficult days at his word processor I could feel him seeking inspiration in lists and details from treasured publications to fill his daily quota. I could also sense those ecstatic days where genius and supreme command of language and writing flowed effortlessly.
In this book expect a journey through guilt and self loathing. Expect too, some analysis of his sexuality, short dissertations on male beauty and begin to understand his yearnings to love and be loved.
Some passages might reasonably be described as essays in trivia in which he takes a subject and reduces it to its basic constituents, biting into it furiously from every direction and worrying it to death.
All that said, I loved the book and respect the man even more having got to understand him better, this time from the inside.
This is one of those books that just has to be read by the author to do it justice. Fry reads this book passionately and emotionally, naturally using the English language to it's best extent. Fry cuts through each sentence in a beautifully poetic way!
This is a incredibly honest and frank account of Fry's school days. Most memorable parts are his hatred of games (particularly swimming), his ongoing battles over his love of music, his first crush (which consumed him every second of the day), and his petty crimes which culminated in a Jail sentence.
A word of warning, Stephen's very fragrant use of words and detailed descriptions of his sexual emotions may offend!
I couldn't stop listening to this book and wish it wasn't all over!
If you like Stephen Fry (and who doesn't) you'll like this auto-biographical account of Stephen's early years. It's an honest tale of childhood and teenage memories and Stephen talks openly about his upbringing and misconducts in a way that you don't expect to hear from such a public figure. And you can't help but respect him the more for it.
I looked forward to my commute each day simply to hear the next instalment of this clearly narrated book.
This book is also a tale of how, with enough determination, it is possible to turn your life around.
I enjoy audio versions, especially those read by the author as you can feel the real emotion behind the words. It's always easier to listen to someone than to read and interpret for yourself how they feel.
The intensity of feeling for 'Mateo'
Yes, though my busy life would not allow this so it became my bedtime and overnight stay in hospital listen.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite it being a little angry and dark in places. I have a new found love of Stephen Fry.
This has to be one of the best audiobooks ever published. The autobiography details the early life of a confused, and later, delinquent young man. It is painfully honest, and read by the author, is both incredibly powerful and amusing. This should be on everyone's listening list - it's what the audiobook was invented for!
I can think of nothing better than listening to this author narrating a book about the events and perils of his early life. Frank, sometimes toe curling, often laugh out loud funny but never dull. Every fan of audiobooks should own this.
Interesting insight into Fry's early years, from childhood up to his acceptance into Cambridge. Amusing at times, but also prone to getting bogged down at certain points that don't seem particularly noteworthy or life-altering. Excellent delivery/performance, of course.
This man is a wordsmith of the highest degree and totally enjoyable to listen to. Only Stephen Fry could have read his own book and he did it brilliantly.
One problem - now I listen to other peoples autobiographies they mostly seem shallow and poorly written and have little detail as Frys writings have in spades.
"Listen to the Fry Chronicles First / Instead"
If you're interested in Stephen Fry, start (and perhaps also finish) with the Fry Chronicles instead (Fry's autobiography of the second twenty years of his life). While Fry narrates both autobiographies exquisitely, Moab is My Washpot (of his first twenty years), is less interesting and calls for a good reining in and editing (even more than the Chronicles). The most interesting part, for me, was his account of how thoroughly he was tormented by his inner-devils as a child and adolescent, and how completely he screwed his life up, and then how he took control of his life and made such a success of himself. Parents and teachers take note that Fry leaves no details out of his early sexual experiences, from his more solo adventures to a rather worrying deflowering by an older boy at school. Probably more for die-hard Fry fans.
"Brutal honesty, mature reflection and lots of fun"
A jolly good English romp but with enough humour and twists to prevent it being too toff. Although it mostly talks about Fry's education in the British Public School system, his is no conventional itinerary: there is the foreign family background, the gay consciousness and the never ending maverickness which caused some laugh out loud moments.
He also writes with brutal honesty about adolescent infatuations and shortcomings. Much cringeworthy humour there comes from the reader/listener finding parallels in their own past - whatever their sex and background.
If you wanted to nit-pick, you could say that Fry, being so very clever with words and style, can't help himself at times and manipulates the reader, stringing out the moment of a revelation with too many incidental diversions or padding out stories to an extent that can sometimes be a little annoying. And sometimes he sounds a bit too pompous in his delivery. But overall, these are very minor complaints and the book is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, especially as you know you are getting the whole story from the horse's mouth, the way he intends it to be heard.
I found out about this book through listening to the Fry chronicles which I also loved. The two cover quite different biographical ground and are fun in different ways and I recommend them both.
You can have fun trying to work out what the title means! He doesn't explain it.
"Brilliantly written and thoroughly enjoyable"
Firstly, I love listening to Stephen Fry's voice!
I admire greatly his artful use of the English language. And appreciate his candour. There are so many beautifully written sentences in this book that one wants to pore over.
Whether he believes it or not Stephen Fry makes the world a better place.
"Interesting, but very wordy"
Too much information!
Yes, absolutely. I've already listened to The Fry Chronicles, which follows this one, and it's better. I'm planning on getting the third, after I've caught up on some other reading.
I did find it rather long-winded, and it dragged a little at times. Nevertheless, I'm glad to have read it.
Other reviewers have mentioned some explicit scenes and vulgarities. Certainly I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under the age of consent, and in some places there was rather more detail than I was comfortable with - but I expect non-fiction to take me outside my comfort zone from time to time. If you're a Steven Fry fan, and you want to know about his life, you will want to read this. If you don't, you will always be wondering if you missed something important.
Yes, yes and thrice yes. I will probably listen more than twice!
The honesty and his life laid bare.
The end....very sad....
"My one and only Perfect 10"
In truth this is not everyone's cuppa because you had to have been there to really, and I mean really, 'get it'. I was, albeit before Fry Minor and at a different school but through his recollections and story telling I was reacquainted with senses, events and people I had long forgotten. It is a magical carpet ride, a parallel universe where everything was the same, only the names different (we even had our own Stephen Fry!). Be warned, expletives are therein aplenty but when used in Fry's context, in his delivery, they are an important part of the adjectival pallet. Thank you Stephen for your intellect and courage and supreme sense of humour and contriteness. Long may you continue to scribe.
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