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)
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.
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.
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.
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