I'm working through my piles of books and this morning finished reading Stephen Fry's autobiography, Moab is my Washpot. At 436 pages, the 'good bits' don't start until around page 357. Still, it's an interesting look into the life of one of Britian's funniest funny men. Fry speaks candidly and with rawness about the first 20 years of his life.
Behind the face that is Jeeves of Jeeves & Wooster lies the early years of a young boy and adolescent who struggled to find his voice and his place in English society. The middle child of three and son of an inventor, Fry spent his formative years, as do many of England's young people, attending boarding schools and pulling off pranks and pratfalls in the midst of learning. In between, he engages in petty theft and credit card fraud--crimes that eventually land him in court and prison charged as a felon. He sees the error of his ways and extracts himself from a future of dead-ends, applies himself, and goes on to succeed at Cambridge, becomes friends with the likes of Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson, works as a headmaster teaching English, German, and History, and goes on to become not only one of England's hail and hearty comedians, but a spokesperson for mental illness.
Fry's autobiography also speaks of his struggles finding love and figuring himself out. He finally embraces his sexuality when he falls in love with a school chum called Matthew. While he makes no excuses for his petty thievery and wayward decision making, he does venture that society's inability to embrace homosexuality likely contributed to his misbehavior and petulance. In figuring out himself, Fry engages in some Byronesque writing that is some of the best reading in his autobiography.
All in all, an intriguing book. Written in a rambling, British conversational, stream - of - conscientiousness manner, Moab is My Washpot can be a bit of a slog, but if you're willing to read beyond page 357, you'll find a well-written story that highlights the complexities of human existence and evolution of character. Out of five stars, I'd give this a three. (And a thanks to my friend Hilary for gifting this to me.)