51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Genius!
Having thoroughly enjoyed Stephen Fry's autobiography, "Moab is my Washpot", I decided to read "The Liar", his first novel, which was written before "Moab". I'm glad I read the books in that order, as many of the events in "The Liar" are taken from Fry's own public school experiences. I had a clearer understanding of situations...
Published on 24 Nov 2001
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost Interesting...
I should preface this by saying 'I love Stephen Fry.' Despite being a heterosexual male, I would quite happily marry him just so I could enjoy a lifetime of his mild manners and witty repartees.
This being said, since I discovered Amazon's 'review' function I've tried to dissect books as objectively as possible. Therefore, I have to confess that The Liar was...
Published on 22 Oct 2008 by MJ Perry
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Liar (Unabridged audio book) By Stephen Fry,
This review is from: The Liar: Complete & Unabridged (Audio Cassette)
I loved The Liar when I read it a few years ago. I remember it slipped into literary legend for me. But that did not prepare me for the sheer magnificence of the unabridged audio version of the book. It combines arguably Fry's best literary work to date with his brilliance as a narrator that won him the Talkie Award for reading Harry Potter. To hear the main character, Adrian, brought to life is a bowel-shattering joy to behold. Add Fry's flair for comic delivery and you are are left with something every person with a brain and a fraction of sliver of particle of iota of a smidgen of a mere suggestion of a sense of humour should own. It was great. I loved it. Buy it now.
5.0 out of 5 stars Saying that which is not....,
By A Customer
This book gets 5 crowns only because it is not possible to give it 6. Buy two copies because you'll read and re-read this one so much that the pages will fall out. The sheer lyricism of Fry's sentence construction combined with the inventive and convoluted plot make this simply ajoy to read. The man is a national treasure although he'd probably be embarrased to hear it said. His natural talent for satire and his immense intelligence shine through in much the same way as it did in those priceless TV scripts which he wrote with long-time comic partner Hugh Laurie. The characters are believable but outrageous and he keeps the twist in the tale right up to the very end. Good for a journey on a plane or train or just simply for reading again and again. I defy you not to love this book, or be able to resist going straight out and buying "Hippopotamus" and "Making History" by the same author. Who said the comic novel was dead ? Never ! Never ! - Matthew Salter
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg,
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This review is from: The Liar (Kindle Edition)
The good parts are very good. But the bad parts are really rather horrid. The reader should persevere. Most of the disagreeable bits are early in the book. As I read it on Kindle I can tell you that by 35% I was tempted to give up, but by about 45% I was beginning to enjoy it, and it got better and better from then on.
Mr Fry's sense of humour (at least in the early stages of this novel) is that of a particularly disgusting adolescent schoolboy. The revolting descriptions of mutual masturbation etc will no doubt appeal to some, but most will find them a big turn off. One also fears, until about half way through, that we are expected to admire the grossly superficial "intelligence" of the hero. But it really is worth ploughing on. Even the humour improves (rather dramatically).
My guess is that Mr Fry wrote the first third of the book when he was about sixteen (and probably a rather nasty youth). He then put it aside for ten or so years. I think it was a mistake, when he resumed, that he didn't re-write what he had already written. If he had done so, this could have been a minor classic. As it is, the novel will be read for a few years (because its author is a "celebrity") but will then be forgotten.
5.0 out of 5 stars Back and Forth from Obscurity to Genius,
By A Customer
I was rather perturbed by the opening chapter of the book that looks at the sexual orientation of a young man in a boarding school. It deals with Love and toast in a way that I had not previously considered and although about as different from the character as possible, I could relate to him. Stephen Fry then expands the story and writes with such perfection, wit and clarity that you can believe the characters and the situations they are in and you daren't leave the book alone for a moment for fear of the characters doing something without you. As the story unfolds in 2 different times, each compliments the other and gives a greater understanding to the characters and their motivations. The final unravelling of the story left me wanting more and hoping Stephen would write a sequel.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PAGLIACCIO,
The Liar is the first novel that Stephen Fry wrote and the second of his novels that I have read. Over the last 15 or 20 years he has of course become familiar from television as a comedian and comedy actor, as large as Oscar Wilde and with a flippant urbane wit nearly to match.
A born entertainer, one would say, full of zest for and enjoyment of what he does, and a bit of a toff with it. However when I first read his The Stars' Tennis Balls I sensed something else entirely. My reaction was `This man is seriously not right', and it came to me as no surprise recently when he let out that he is a manic depressive. You can already sense the problem in The Liar. It is largely autobiographical obviously, and just as certainly embellished too, I should say. The hero and the author are carried along on a torrent of their own phenomenal articulacy and imagination. Experiences and ordeals that would have had most of us in permanent psychiatric care seem to leave no lasting mark so far as this narrative is concerned, but the underlying nihilism is unmistakable as well. Fry's genius is a gift of the gods, but like most gifts of the gods it comes with a heavy burden attached. When the effervescence boils down, as it sometimes must, the vessel is empty. The style is not just the man, the style is the man's whole world.
The most elite English education is the scaffolding that supports Fry and his hero. Their patois is a joy to listen to, and the author's satirical ear is acute. He has not only the idiom of the English public school to perfection, but also the jargon of Cambridge professors arguing as well as the strange lingo in which examination questions are framed. None of these are targets for Fry in any sense implying hostility. He is a liberal, not a revolutionary, and he laughs because otherwise he might weep. All the same, it would be leaving an utterly false impression to suggest that there is any tone of gloom to this book. It's funny, sometimes hilariously funny, and it is damnably ingenious. I will go further - there is a real feeling of kindness about Fry, and cruelty is absent altogether. This book involves people being murdered, but the sense is no more gory than in Agatha Christie, and the Christie-style denouement with the master-mind explaining the intricacies of what has happened is clever beyond anything Christie could do.
Is he perhaps too clever by half? Not for me, but very likely for his own good. He remains an entertainer of genius, his heart is obviously in it, and I feel it's a good heart too. This is what he does because this is what he's good at, and I have not read a book that entertained me quite so much for quite a long time. Put your Family Values in a jar with the lid firmly on, of course, when you read Fry.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More twists in the tale than a litter of piglets,
The story follows Adrian Healy, a compulsive liar "with the highest score ever recorded in the scholarship exams" from public school through to adulthood. One of the features of the narrative is that you are never sure whether you are reading what really happened, or one of Adrian's lies. Luckily, this doesn't matter in the slightest as both fantasy and reality are equally engaging.
This goes on my list of the ten most enjoyable books I have ever read. It has a cracking plot, deliciously erudite and witty dialogue, and involving characterisation. Be warned, however, that there is an enormous amount of 'perverted' sex and 'bad' language, so it is not for the prudish.
5.0 out of 5 stars What a marvellous piece of work!,
By A Customer
I can only describe this piece of literature as among the best I have ever read. I was on a very long plane journey to New Zealand recently and I was causing great panic amongst my fellow passengers with my constant idiotic giggling which must have given them the impression that I was some sort of lunatic. I am now a believer in intelligent nuttiness, if there is such a thing, and I would recommend this book to anyone. Read "Moab Is My Washpot" aftewards though, and you'll see how the books are similar in terms of their theme, their brutal honesty and wit. Splendid!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tall story,
Stephen Fry’s debut novel deals in the sort of subject matter one might expect – middle class public schoolboys, homosexuality, Wildean wit, Cambridge and cricket, but manages to put enough of a spin on the material that it never seems predictable.
The hero, an inveterate liar, is the source of much of the novels humour, but beneath his witty comebacks and tall-tales we glimpse a fascinating creature who surrounds himself with fantasy to mask his essential hollowness.
Fun, funny, great dialogue, an incredibly compulsive lead character and a great closing plot twist, the Liar is a comedy classic that manages to be moving as well as amusing.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fry's finest novel and my favorite book,
'The Liar' is not only Stephen Fry's finest novel but also my favorite book. Fry is a master of language and wit, it is a pleasure to read his words. The story is rather autobiographical and that adds to the pleasure of reading it. It also has many layers what makes it possible to re-read the book several times. It even gets better and better the more often one reads it.
4.0 out of 5 stars It made me search for more of his books,
The book was recommended to me by a friend - it was suppose to be a good example of english modern literature. I found the first chapters soaked in queer boy's stories - rather strange, specially considering the guy who recommended the book. Nevertheless, I didn't put it aside and finished the book amazed on how I enjoyed it. Very good stuff - it made me buy "Making history" which I also recommend. Fry is brilliant.
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