33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
"If I had time I'd make this a short review", sorry, memoir,
This review is from: The Fry Chronicles (Hardcover)
When I saw this book in the bookshop I was delighted, looking forward to a treat of 400-pages of entertaining anecdotes. I was disappointed. It was so verbose I ended up skim-reading most of it. And still feeling a bit short changed. Perhaps his fear of offending anyone is what keeps the text frothy and inconsequential.
It's a shame because with a strong copy editor I think the book could have come out well. He needed someone to help him find a stronger narrative arc - which must be hard to do when writing about your own life. It must be hard to find the emotional distance to see it as a stranger would. And he seriously needs someone to cut-cut-cut and tell him "you're going on a a bit here". Lobbing 100 pages off the book would help the book communicate so much better.
Stephen does like his long lists of inconsequential detail. At first I indulged him wittering about all the types of breakfast cereal there were when he was a boy. He is the loveable Stephen Fry after all.
But a lot of the detail didn't either a) move the story along or b) bring the characters to life. So I was turned off when he was detailing his Cambridge education including exactly what his room contained and what a gyp (scout) is. The long loving details about computers also bored me and felt self-indulgent. Also the use of very long sentences and obscure words. Egregrious is one he relishes rolling around his mouth.
He kept saying that he had to explain things to US readers. Which got me thinking that the book was not written for me as a Brit. Surely there was a way to organise the book so you have background texts at the back, in little codas. Or publish a UK and a US version?
I ended up skipping the refrains about how Stephen lapses into addiction and self-loathing and hates his body.I would rather he told a story to show us this, rather than tell us. Also how awkward he feels even though other people assume he's very privileged and establishment and smug and at ease. This seemed to contradict the loving details about the sumptuousness of his college accommodation and college traditions.
When he was on form, the stories were entertaining and I warmed to him again. I do remember enjoying a story about Stephen Sondheim faxing him in the 1980 as part of a treasure hunt clue. The section about him writing the book for Me and My Girl was genuinely interesting. I didn't know that the "book" - or non-sung dialogue in a musical is the story it all hangs on.
The bits about him meeting and working with Hugh Lawrie were interesting and I would have liked more on this partnership. And the anecdote about him taking leftie alternative comedian Ben Elton to a Tory genetleman's club where they were overheard by Lord Hailsham I think - who was not amused. The photo captions too were amusing.
Worth a read for the highlights if you can borrow it off a friend or wait for it to come out in paperback.