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Too many names I'd never heard of
on 26 September 2011
On the whole I found this enjoyable and easy to read, particularly the section on student life in Cambridge and work with the Footlights.
HOWEVER... Fry describes the development of his career in detail, and his book is sprinkled with the names of actors, writers, plays and TV programmes. Since I myself did not live in the UK during the eighties, many of these names mean very little to me. No doubt it would all be very fascinating for a reader who had some memory or knowledge of the personalities involved, but not for me. (I did find his descriptions interesting when I actually knew who or what he was talking about, for instance "Blackadder".)
Fry was successful more or less right from the moment he left university, and quickly became extremely wealthy. He used his money in what he himself admits was a trivial way, spending it on expensive houses, cars, clubs, and the latest technology. He spends a great deal of time - too much - explaining how in spite of his success and wealth, he is plagued by a sense of failure, of being a fraud, of not really belonging in the worldly circles in which he appears to move with such ease. No doubt this is perfectly sincere, no doubt it is also worth saying, but I got bored long before he'd finished saying it.
The Kindle formatting is OK on the whole, but it isn't able to cope with a speech from one of his plays and the text of a magazine article. They are not distinguished visually from the surrounding text, which particularly in the case of the speech is confusing, as it takes the reader a minute to realise that this is not actually Fry speaking. Kindle still needs to refine its formatting.
I would give this 3½ stars. Since I have to choose between rounding up and rounding down, I prefer to round down. It doesn't reach 4, as far as I'm concerned.