Sooooo this is another cheat. I haven’t had this sitting on my shelf for a long time. I haven’t even been meaning to read it for that long (since it came out the day I bought it…). But I went to see Stephen Fry give a talk about and some readings from his new memoir, More Fool Me, and started reading it immediately. In my defence, it has taken me a long time to finish reading it because I’ve been prioritising my masters reading. Ok? Ok.
Following the first two instalments of memoir, Moab Is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles, More Fool Me covers the period of Fry’s life when he was a) writing The Hippopotamus, b) enjoying a life of luxury and success and c) addicted to cocaine. He is very careful about not glorifying cocaine use while also attempting to be honest about his own experiences of it. The book includes a list of all the places he did cocaine (such as Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the Groucho Club), photos from his life grouped and spaced throughout, and some hilarious name-dropping stories, such as the time Prince Charles came over for New Year.
Things I liked
The style – I think I will always love Stephen Fry’s writing style. The Liar, although structurally flawed, is one of my favourite books purely for the style in which it is written. Listening to Fry speak and reading his book are almost identical experiences. I can say this with some sincerity, having done both of these things at the talk he gave in Bristol. It is Wodehouse-ian in its flippant tone and yet self-deprecating, enlightening, and warm. If you aren’t a fan of Stephen Fry, there is nothing in this book for you, as it is very personally and individually his.
The world of the biz. How different it all was, evening just in the eighties and nineties. It feels as far away as reading about stars of Hollywood in the Golden Age; you still know all the names and the faces, the roles they played and the things they created, but there is just as wide a separation as if they had been living and working fifty years ago. That is, if you’re in your early twenties like me. I imagine if you were experiencing these creations at the time, reading about them now would be a completely different thing. I’d be interested in how someone between the ages of 30 and 60 would feel reading this book…
The little side-notes about fact-checking amongst those mentioned – particularly those with regard to Hugh Laurie, they were very funny.
Things I didn’t like
There is a large section at the end which consists entirely of Stephen’s diary at the time about which he is writing. Although it was incredibly interesting to read something so personal and explicit, that was written at the time and not just about it, there was maybe too much of it. Also, I think I do prefer the reflective style of a memoir rather than the immediacy of the diary. However it’s not that I would cut it out completely… I definitely would not have put it at the end of the book with little else to round it off, maybe included it throughout or had a smaller part of it, somewhere in the midle? It seemed as though the editors might have run out of ideas or thought it wasn’t long enough as it was.
Should I read this?
I liked it. If you like Stephen Fry’s writing, you will like it. If you liked his earlier memoirs, you should enjoy it. If you like him generally, you will probably want to read it, and I say go for it.
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The Book Depository
You can buy the book here.
Because I am trying not to use Amazon in my own half-arsed protest-y way, I’d like to recommend to people that they check out The Book Depository, which is a great, user-friendly site with affordable books ranging from brand new releases to classics, and in many different editions at less-than brand new prices. As I am now officially an affiliate of The Book Depository, I gain a small commission if you use my affiliate link to buy books! Please do check it out, even if you don’t buy anything right now.