I read Stephen Fry’s first memoir, Moab is My Washpot, earlier this year, which covers his life up to Cambridge. The Fry Chronicles is in my TBR Pile Challenge list, so it’s been on the shelf for quite a while now.
I feel a bit guilty about this, but after listening to his first memoir as an audiobook, I couldn’t pass up doing the same with his second. I love self-narrated autobiographies when they’re well done, and it was obvious his would be, so the dead-tree version is still collecting dust on the shelf.
This actually covers less of his life than I’d thought, which in a way is good news, as there will certainly be more to come. It begins, after a bit of recapping, in Cambridge. He joins the Footlights after eventually meeting Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson and keeps at it until he eventually makes his way into show business as a jack of all trades – writing, theatre, radio, television, and a bit of movie work.
Along the way he meets Rowan Atkinson, destined to join Blackadder and be the best man at his wedding. He tinkers on his first Mac with Douglas Adams, launching an obsession with technology that still lasts today. He meets and works with many interesting people along the way. It almost begins to seem a bit name-droppy, but it is a personal memoir, and they are co-workers and idols that played a large part in his life, so I think he gets a pass.
It ends in the late 80s, so there’s still much to come. He hints at his eventual drug use and personal troubles at the end of the book, so I’m guessing the next memoir will focus quite a lot on that. I really enjoyed this, but I found Moab to be overall more interesting, and I wonder if that’s due to the fact that he had his life together during the span of this book. I hate to think I’m more driven to read on when there’s personal drama to be had, like a reality television addict, but there may be no denying it.
There are young men and women up and down the land who happily (or unhappily) tell anyone who will listen that they don’t have an academic turn of mind, or that they aren’t lucky enough to have been blessed with a good memory, and yet can recite hundreds of pop lyrics and reel off any amount of information about footballers. Why? Because they are interested in those things. They are curious. If you are hungry for food, you are prepared to hunt high and low for it. If you are hungry for information it is the same. Information is all around us, now more than ever before in human history. You barely have to stir or incommode yourself to find things out. The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is.
It’s still a great memoir, though, and Stephen Fry’s writing could make a phone book captivating.