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Customer Review

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Advanced polymaths, 19 Feb. 2012
This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Paperback)
I never quite know what the think of Stephen Fry. I do find him funny, and he clearly has extraordinary talents - encyclopaedic knowledge; the ability to turn his hand to acting, comedy, script-writing, quiz show hosting, providing voice-overs, credit card defrauding, book writing.

But there's something that stops me quite 'buying' him. It might just be pure jealousy, that one man can be just so talented. It might be the feeling that he is a little too good at working his audience, a bit faux-naive self-deprecating. The other possible reason of course is that you can't get away from him. He's everywhere, and I guess this book is the story of how he came to be everywhere.

I did enjoy this book a lot. I'm the same age as Fry and the people and TV programmes he describes in this book are the ones I watched in my early adulthood - Comic Strip, Fry and Laurie, Ben Elton etc. etc. The book is refreshingly honest about these (he likes Ben Elton, a lot; he seems to dislike Robbie Coltrane, a lot), and he does a reasonable job of (a) telling us just how incredibly successful he has been, and (b) being extremely modest about his acheivements. It is genuinely funny - a photo of Fry and his posh pals looking cheerfully smug in black ties ("I know we look like w@nkers, but we weren't, honestly"). It is also a fascinating tale of Fry's struggle with the excesses of his own personality. He's a good writer (he bloody would be, wouldnt he!) and there are some great stories here. And I didn't realise that the young Emma Thompson was SUCH a cutie.

But something is missing for me, which means only three stars. I think it's the fact that, despite Fry's tortured self-awareness, he just doesn't quite understand that life is harder than this for less talented people. His career from Cambridge just happens, effortlessly and with a feeling of inevitability. He's asked to write the screenplay for Me and My Girl in his early 20s; it's a smash hit; appears on TV in a hit comedy revue; stars for his team on University Challenge - it goes on and on. I want to know if he was surprised at all this success, and if not, why not?

But anyway, it is a really enjoyable read, and I'll buy the next instalment, for sure. Ultimately, he is a likable man, even if he is intimidatingly talented, and he usually falls on the right side of most debates. But, as I say, something stops me giving it more than three stars.

Yes, it is jealousy, I think.
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Location: Keynsham

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