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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2007
This was definately one of the best books i have ever read, he is so honest in his difficulties and doesn't brag or big himself up in anyway. it really gave me a greater appreciation of the power of words, and of the relation of one human's experience to another. even though i probably have nothing in common with the author, i found this an extremely powerful and theraputic novel. his memories are particularly vivid and vast in number, spanning from age 3- to about the time he was 19. its also a fascinating insight into public school life and the authors opinions on it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2012
Most of us would flinch at writing down for all to read, a warts and all account of our lives. But this is exactly what Stephen Fry has had the balls to do; all credit to him. For the first part of his autobiography - (the first twenty years of his life) is a real read, in every sense. What we get is a tour around Fry's most private emotional workings and memories. There is no gloss and all is laid bare. I won't spoil it for you by giving edited highlights of his first twenty years; I will leave this for you to discover for yourself, suffice to say that it is not totally what you might expect.

This is the most candid autobiography that I have read.

This book will have you laughing out loud throughout, it will also tug at your heartstrings and have you recalling your own first adolescent love / teenage infatuation.

Fry provides non-public school educated folk, such as myself, with an insight as to the way public schools operate and the life that pupils lead within them, very illuminating.

The writing is very direct and immediate; it makes it feel as if Fry is in the room with you, talking to you. His autobiography, as you might expect, overflows with his very specific way with words that he has and is a delight in itself.

Quite simply a must read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2007
I read this years ago so am surprised to see it back again in so exalted a position on Amazon, although perhaps I shouldn't be surprised because Mr Fry is as good at writing as he is at making us laugh at General Melchett. The self-deprecation inherent in this easy read is lovely and the humour shines through, as does the acute embarrassment.

Buy it!
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105 of 118 people found the following review helpful
OK, this book is therapy. Reading it is, and I suspect writing it was too. I started it at 18:00h in the Dublin rush-hour (it's always advisable to have some good reading material at hand in that predicament) and finished it at 05:00h in the morning not even feeling tired, bladder bursting, dehydrated for lack of tea and grinning like a big, happy loon. I then read it all over again, straightaway. It has left me overwhelmed, chastised, wanting to shout out its virtues in Tesco and giddily, exuberantly happy; happy that such excellent language is still being written, that its creator should walk the earth as my contemporary and share his gifts so generously with all of us and, most of all, that he found redemption.

For, make no mistake, this is a redemption story; redemption not in the religious sense but in the sense of a soul coming to terms with itself. Stephen Fry's love for Oscar Wilde is well publicised, so maybe it's no coincidence that this account of his first twenty years reminded me of Wilde's fairy tales, these delicate, heartbreaking, deeply moralistic stories about love, betrayal, redemption and futility. Sometimes he finds himself cast as the Selfish Giant, sometimes as the Nightingale, sometimes as the ugly dwarf from The Birthday of the Infanta, and - might as well make full use of the Wilde connection here - the story about "Matteo" has taught me more about the true meaning of The Love that Dare not Speak its Name than over twenty years of worship at Oscar's throne.

Redemption is ultimately the result of learning to love yourself, and only once you learn to love yourself you can love others (if you don't believe me, look it up in the Bible). It is no wonder, so, that Moab is my Washpot is brimming with love, in the writing, in the feelings it evokes and between the lines. The deep affection for the people around him that is spilling from these pages is what makes even the worst escapades described on them forgivable and makes you want to offer your shoulder to the lying, thieving, betraying 17 year old Stephen to cry on. Where that school boy would have hurt people to hurt himself, 39 year old Stephen, the adult who had forgiven himself, asked them for absolution and received it.

All that said, this is still Stephen Fry we are talking about, so Moab is my Washpot is anything but a soppy hugfest. There are side-splittingly funny anecdotes in this book, deep literary and philosophical insights, acrid rants, pure, hilarious filth, language as beautiful as a white lily next to profanities that would make a sailor blush, fond asides about his colleague, confidante and Alter Ego Hugh Laurie that hint at the essence of their friendship, and everything else that makes Stephen so uniquely Stephen and us so lucky to have him.

Of course there are authors and influences without whom the book wouldn't have been written, or would certainly read very differently. There is a lot of P.G. Wodehouse in the use of simile, the way Stephen Fry displays his view of the world recalls Douglas Adams, and the whole book owes a certain debt to Graham Chapman's A Liar's Autobiography, a must read for everyone who enjoyed it.

Buy this book! Read it! Read it again! Pester libraries to stock it! Shout its virtues from the rooftops and include a copy in the payload of the next space probe to leave the solar system!

Not the full Five Stars, however, as the carthatic atmosphere that pervades this book occasionally - very occasionally that is - threatens to descend to that of a 12 Steps Confessional. Still, as autobiographies go, it is well and truly the dog's bollocks.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2003
I first read this book when I was thirteen, desperately in unrequited love (although with an older, not a younger man) and wracked with teenage angst. No one understood me, I had no religion, no one to talk to and this love took up my every waking thought. What a relief then, to stumble upon this masterpiece and realise that I wasn't completely alone in the world.
I totally understood everything that Stephen had to say about the world, he made more sense than anybody ever had before. It seemed strange that the man who understood me most in the entire universe wasn't my own father, or even the object of my thirteen year old affections, but this man twenty-eight years my senior that I had never met and had nothing in common with.
You'll be pleased to hear that I'm almost nineteen now, and although not out of my teenage years, I'm out of my teenage angst. I still love the man who inspired those thirteen year old tears, but he loves me too these days, and I feel somewhere deep down, that if Stephen knew, it might inspire a smile. Thanks Stephen.
Also, could I speak for everyone in saying I'm well on my way to being Anonymous Amazon Book Reviewer BA (Hons) in English Literature, I'm not a daft carrot, and I found the idea of stripping a gooseberry bush faster than a priest could strip a choir boy very funny indeed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Stephen Fry is a British institution and this is mainly the autobiography of his early life in other British institutions- namely boarding school and prison. Told in broadly chronological order, besides the occasional digression, it is a fascinating stroll from childhood innocence through puberty and into crime. Stephen Fry was in prison- no really. He really was.

I wouldn't say I related to this book the way others have said they did, but it was so warmly and conversationally told that it was impossible not to be gripped by Stephen Fry's tale-telling.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2007
Can't remember when last I laughed and cried as much as listening to Stephen Fry himself narrating his memoirs. What a wonderfully human, honest and true story it is and heartbreaking at the same time as his sense of humour shines through it all. Do read it or listen to it, it will at best make us all a better human beings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 1999
... and this goes for both the book and the author! Even for a non-British like myself, reading it has been a sheer delight. I bought it while on a business trip in Edinburgh and I was so thrilled with it that after having read only 100 pages or so, I went straight back to the bookshop and bought all his other books (Paperweight, Hippopotamus, Making History and The Liar)!! It's because of people like Stephen Fry that I have fallen in love with the British wit and sense of humour. _Tout simplement irresistible!_
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 1999
You will seldom read another book whose author lays himself so touchingly, vulnerably bare. The only parallel I can think of is Edmund White's beautiful 'A Boy's Own Story'. Stephen Fry's catharsis is our gain, as a whole young life unravels through the pages of 'Moab...' Ultimately it is the story of Fry learning to accept himself; it is a measure of his intellectual and emotional depths that he was able to struggle and fight for so long. Some may hear echoes of Andre Gide's self-explanatory 'L'Immoraliste', but Fry's view of himself as an adolescent is far more sympathetic and affectionate. He compares his love for 'Matthew' to the great literary loves of Shakespeare, Milton and the Classical authors - and in our cynical, jaded era, this is probably the closest you'll come to witnessing love, raw and bleeding and writhing on the cold slab in full view. It is a rare pleasure and a huge privilege to be allowed access to Stephen Fry's living memories. A one-off.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2011
This book is a strange beast. It is a mix of Mr Fry's life story, his internal loathing and his external ranting of all things human.
His story is worth reading, it is all things an interesting biography should be, but be warned, he has a real tendency to suddenly veer away from the story and begin a three or four page rant about the issues connected. For example during the first few chapters about his early school life, he goes off on a rant about education.
If you can put these rants aside then the book does improve and the rants become less. The second half of the book does pick up so I would suggest skipping the rants if they do not interest you, and just pick out the actual story. Then it becomes an interesting narrative.
Having now finished the book I was really looking forward to the next volume, but noticed the extortionate Kindle pricing and will not bother now. Shame really.
Four star book, reduced by one due to the Kindle price of the follow up.
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