Book #46

Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry's bestselling memoir tells how, sent to a boarding school 200 miles from home at the age of seven, he survived beatings, misery, love, ecstasy, carnal violation, expulsion, imprisonment, criminal conviction, probation and catastrophe to emerge, at eighteen, ready to try and face the world in which he had always felt a stranger.

I have always considered Stephen Fry as a national treasure and a man to be adored. Before now, however, I had never read any of his writing. I have to say, my adoration of him has soared after reading this autobiography due to his severe confessional honesty, and his untethered swearing (mainly f--- and c---; joyous!).

There are quite a few shocking scenes in these memoirs: expulsions from school, a spell in prison, and even a suicide attempt. Finding out about these was like being told a secret. I could never imagine Fry in any of these situations; he simply does not strike me as one who would do such things. But he has! And it was so delicious to learn that this famous, intelligent gentleman was once as naive and ridiculous as everyone else.

My favourite thing about this book was Fry's use of obscure words. I reached for my dictionary more times than I usually do whilst reading, and I learned so many new words (namely pleonasm, Fry's guilty pleasure). This is quite rare for me these days; although I do not like to boast of having a large brain and a wide vocabulary, this is the case, and finding new words has become a rarity.

I also really enjoyed the sections relating to Fry's school days. I have had a strange obsession with tales set in boarding schools ever since the wonderful Malory Towers, so I was in my element. Even his descriptions of the buildings sent me into absolute rapture. A strange fetish, but one that is present in me nonetheless!

He does tend to go off on rambling tangents, reminiscing about one thing or another, likening one situation to literary pursuits, and placing quotes from various places into the text where he thought applicable. This could be irksome with some authors, but with Fry it is simply endearing and a bit quaint.

The only downfall with this autobiography is that it only details the first twenty-odd years of Fry's life. We don't even get to meet Hugh Laurie! I find it amazing that it has taken him thirteen years to write the second half, The Fry Chronicles, however I will be attempting to source a copy as soon as I possibly can. Moab Is My Washpot, I feel, is essential for a Stephen Fry fan, full of so much honesty and self-deprecation that I simply cannot fault him.

46 / 72 books. 64% done!