Friday, 23 January 2009

Moab is my Washpot by Stephen Fry

We all know Stephen Fry is a deliciously entertaining wordsmith, and this memoir just goes to prove it all over again.

Fry recounts his first 20 years with hilarity, touching humility and a dazzling insight into his younger self. From school to school, Fry tells his coming-of-age and the difficulties of being a budding homosexual, a teacher's cheeky nightmare, and terrible at 'games' (sports). When you admire and respect someone, I think it's always interesting to learn about their past - their prides and pitfalls, the things (books, people, music) that influenced them, and the kind of experiences that got them where they now are. Such is why the relatively normal childhood of Stephen Fry makes for such good reading - that, and the fact that he is an astute and sensitive storyteller; talented and full of wit.

I loved reading about his journey into language, his (painfully unrequited) first love, his discovery of lies, music, sex. It's interesting that despite his upper middle class upbringing, he has a well-rounded objective view of the system through which he grew up. He somehow manages to dispell your preconcieved 'English boys boarding school' stereotype, but replace it with an almost identical version in which something somewhere has shifted, and you're not sure what. Moab is my Washpot leaves you intrigued, too - it tells only up to his 20th year, and I am still left wondering how he got from there to today! I will be reading further memoirs of his, certainly.

I am also yet to read any of Fry's fiction. I'm interested to see how that differs from his memoirs and his essays. All I know is, his non-fiction is as rambunctious, rauchy, thrilling, hilarious and daring as any fiction I've ever read.

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