Moab Is My Washpot
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Moab Is My Washpot (Memoir #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  10,255 ratings  ·  604 reviews
A number one bestseller in Britain, Stephen Fry's astonishingly frank, funny, wise memoir is the book that his fans everywhere have been waiting for. Since his PBS television debut in the Blackadder series, the American profile of this multitalented writer, actor and comedian has grown steadily, especially in the wake of his title role in the film Wilde, which earned him a...more
Paperback, 366 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Soho Press (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Trevor
In Foucault’s The History of Sexuality there is a chapter where (and I’m simplifying and summarising, possibly far too much) he compares Eastern and Western ways of sex. Basically in the East people are ‘initiated’ into sex – they are taught sex as one might be taught to dance. No one is expected to just know – it is something you need to learn. In the West we don’t bother with that sort of thing. What we do is turn sex into a science. We feel the need to talk endlessly about sex – Kinsy and Hit...more
Lindz
I am not English
I am not Jewish
I am not Gay
I am not Male
I did not go through an English public school system or prison.

I understood and related to every single beautiful syllable of this beautiful, beautiful memoir.

Stephen Fry's first autobiography was an absolute pleasure from start to finish. He is a true master of words. This 'celebrity tell all' is heavy and pungent with words. Nice sweaty words filled with flavour and colour.

I loved the large rants, tangents, separated by these wonderful...more
Tony Johnston
I would find it tough to fully explain why I dislike this book because to do so would require a long essay and frankly, it doesn't deserve that.

In summary, I am very disappointed. Like a lot of people, I had got used to Stephen Fry the "national treasure" and I looked forward to understanding and appreciating a little more of this enigma. The man with millions of Twitter followers.

The problem is, I ended up wishing I hadn't bothered.

On the one hand I found myself disliking the author in a way...more
Emily May
Look, it's no secret to anyone who knows me in the slightest: I love this man. He is my inspiration and my hero, I love his attitude to life, his sense of humour and unflinching ability to stand up and speak out for what he believes in.

He here tells a brutally honest account of his growing up and how he first came to realise that he was gay. He takes the reader through his days in a boarding school where he struggled to fit in and constantly rebelled against, without knowing quite why. He tells...more
Briar Rose
Reading this book was much like listening to an interesting but self-important guest at a dinner party, who buttonholes you at the hors d'oeuvres and talks to you all night on a wide range of subjects. It's funny and endearing when Fry actually tells stories from his childhood, but he frequently goes off on tangents, which mostly involve long opinionated rants about random subjects, which add nothing to the story. For someone who is such a navel-gazer, he also seems strangely to lack self-awaren...more
Rory
Dec 22, 2008 Rory rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of his
Shelves: memoirs-and-bios
There's no denying that Stephen Fry is absurdly smart, and veddy, veddy funny. I've adored him since he was Jeeves to Hugh Laurie's Wooster. He could annotate a shopping list from 1986 and I'd be enthralled. Of course, his early life was full of much more interesting things--private English schools in the 1970s (a couple of which he was asked to leave), a suicide attempt, early explorations of his homosexuality, earnest struggles to find just where his genius might lie.

I was a tiny bit anguishe...more
Donna
Sometimes I like to daydream about who I would invite to my ideal dinner party, and Stephen Fry is always at the top of my list. He's funny, erudite, active, and kind. Basically he's my idea of a perfect man, and of course, he's gay as a Christmas tree. Ah well, you can't get everything in life, and I would settle for a conversation with him.

After hearing Fry read this book, his own autobiography covering the first 20 years or so of his life, I feel like I've had that conversation. I feel like I...more
Lachlan Smith
Can you imagine being sent to a boarding school 200 miles from where you lived? Well, Stephen Fry doesn’t have to.

Fry’s autobiography, intriguingly entitled Moab is my Washpot, tells of how he managed to live through beatings, expulsion, imprisonment, probation and suicide attempts – all before he was eighteen! He states in the novel that he promised himself he would never write an autobiography unless he was honest throughout and did not try to make himself out as the good guy. Well, he certain...more
Heather
I love Stephen Fry. No matter what one may think of him (and I personally think he's brilliant), the man's command of the English language is wonderful, and he uses it to his full advantage in this memoir of his childhood years. The book is made up of a few large chapters detailing various periods in his early life (his move across schools, the realisation of his sexuality, his first love, his arrest/incarceration) and ends with his acceptance into Cambridge. This book reminded me an awful lot o...more
Ruth
This book wasn't quite what I expected, although I'm not sure exactly what I did expect! It meanders a lot, almost like a Ronnie Corbett armchair sketch - one minute he's telling you about what happened on a certain day during his childhood, and then he starts wandering off, telling you all about his opinions on the subject matter of that day's school lesson, or the way certain people behave. I found it an enjoyable read, and I want to know "what happened next" - the book deals with the first 20...more
Lithium
Whatever your expectations for this book, it will outstrip them. No, that's an understatement. It will take those expectations, multiply them with a factor of 10 or so, take you through 60s England, through the land of schoolboy mischief and lies and heartbreak, show you kindness and compassion along the way, go off on tangents about music and madness and philosophy,and leave you with mad props and respect and love for one Mr. Fry.

For that is the heart of it, of this book and of the writing and...more
Na
I loved reading every page of it…

I received this book as one of my Christmas present from my husband. He used to mention him to me now and again. I have caught my husband watching his BBC show QI a few times and when I watched one of OI series with him, I have quite became obsessed with the program. It is a show where Stephen Fry and 4 guests have a kind of quiz game. Stephen Fry is the quiz master in this program and they talk about some very interesting topics. This program clearly gives us an...more
Siria
Meandering, witty, defensive, wildly self-indulgent, honest, conceited and very entertaining, reading Moab is my Washpot is an experience which I must imagine is very akin to sitting down with Stephen Fry and having him talk with and/or at you for a couple of hours about any subject which comes into his head. Fry recounts the first twenty years of his life—his periods at various boarding schools; his struggles with his sexuality; his suicide attempt and his conviction for fraud—with a great deal...more
Trin
In which Stephen Fry gives a frank and funny recounting of the first twenty years of his life. Dude’s got balls, man: I could never be this honest about myself or my life. And I’m saying that as someone who has not emerged semi-intact from the truly insane-sounding English public school system. It really is an entirely different world, and Fry makes for a straightforward, yet sensitive, guide. Everything he says about not fitting in just makes me ache, especially his discussion about his inabili...more
Zorena
How can you not love a man, that in the middle of why he kept his crooked nose veers off to discourse on how the monarchy is the crooked nose of Great Britain. Brilliant stuff!

Stephen has such a command of language and the written word that I felt his pains and triumphs. He agonizes over his lack of musical ability yet in the next breath he's soaring with his first tale of love. His love of words. His toys as he calls them. Strengthening my own love of language.

Unlike others, I knew a few things...more
Zack
Stephen Fry, despite his imperturbable demeanor as Wodehouse's Jeeves and his jovial, I've-got-all-the-answers persona on Q.I., really doesn't have it all sorted out like you'd expect him to. This has had dramatic consequences for his personal life since childhood (read the book and you'll know what I mean) but makes for a fascinating autobiography. Funny thing is (and yes, the book really is quite funny), you can hear Fry's voice, that mellifluous, British lilt, narrating it, but the events tha...more
Emily
Maybe it's just too British for me, and possibly a bit pleonastic, but most of this book just went right around my head. I wouldn't say over my head because I'm sure I have the capacity to understand what the devil "Cambridge Blue" means and how exactly the British school system is structured, but having very rarely come into contact with it before, I have to say it's just beyond me.
Fry's rambling memoir also devolves into long non-chronological rants upon such things as Authors he has Loved (m...more
Chris
During a recent bout of post-surgical insomnia I whiled away my middle-of-the-night hours watching episode after episode of QI, hosted by Stephen Fry, on Youtube. Its combination of wit and trivia made the sleeplessness bearable. Eventually, however, I ran out of new episodes to watch and at that point downloaded this first volume of Fry's autobiography, which covers his life from first leaving for boarding school to his acceptance to university. He writes about the difficulties inherent in grow...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
Fry has so much charisma, even on the page, that one preserves a certain reticence. He oozes charm, and therefore the natural response is to turn put an anti-charm cloak. Even so, he got me.

For a start, he's so intensely readable, so easy to read that there's pleasure just in that. And then for me -- well he's my decade, a couple of years younger than me -- and so many of his references were my references, his life is my life.

I even know a bit about the sort of background he thrived in, the who...more
Billy
Stephen Fry is a once-in-a-generation intellectual talent that, thank god, dedicated his life to show business rather than government, business, or the academy. Perhaps owing to the TV show Bones (which I have not seen), you're maybe a little more likely to have heard of him in America than a few years ago; you probably have heard of his long-time comedic partner Hugh Laurie, now better known as Gregory House, MD. My first encounter with Stephen was unwitting on my part - turns out he had writte...more
Susan N
One of the bravest books I've ever encountered - I actually listened to Stephen Fry reading it on a talking book recording. And what a marvellous reader he is. He is unflinching in his self-excoriation, revealing the shameful, selfish, cheating, utterly dishonourable and dislikable episodes of his young life and yet, somehow we feel for this lost and lonely, immensely clever and totally unreliable boy, weep with his shame and roar with laughter at his bizarre antics. The story is punctuated with...more
Angela Alcorn
That was a bit of a ride. I now know a tad more about he inner workings of Stephen Fry's brain.

Even readers not interested in biographies could probably enjoy this as a simple tale of boarding school antics (if that's something they like). Seriously, Fry can WRITE. He can take any story and make it interesting. And this time, he's told his own story. And it's good.

The story itself had me feeling for him as he struggled with things he just wasn't good at and falling in love. But these are things...more
Riikka
EN: Oh boy, isn't Fry all over the place with this one? What I mean is, he does get very distracted from the main storyline all the time with this first part of his memoirs. He might be talking about one event in the main chronology when he starts explaining a side story, then a side story of that side story, and more often than not also some extra trivia sprinkled on the top. This will take you several pages forward, sometimes to the point where you almost can't remember what was the original s...more
False Millennium
Brutality honest account of his youth, or so I think he assumes, but it seems like every painful memoir he shares, it's just more smoke. He is painfully truthful about love, and it's difficulties, and how you can carry a love, well...forever, even as the object of love changes. He approves of the ability to change, by the way. He deliberately remembers teachers he was fond of, not the higher percentage of those who were worthless to him in developing. He goes off on tangents, but you find yourse...more
P J
We all know what a clever-clogs Fry is, and I approached this with some caution. In any case, I’m not generally fond of autobiographical work and would not have read this if someone had not handed it to me. Sure enough I spent a lot of the time irritated by him, an irritation not lessened by his description of his defloration by a prefect at Uppingham, which seemed to me insufferably (mmm … that’s almost a Fryism) smugly self-effacing..
But the trouble is that Fry is a very clever man, He is witt...more
Amy
Recently I saw a clip of an interview with Stephen Fry on Craig Ferguson's talk show which caused me to search YouTube for more of his interviews. In the end, my search led me to this book.

I've been aware of Stephen Fry the comedian (Black Adder), Stephen Fry the documentary-maker (In America), and Stephen Fry the audio book narrator (Harry Potter novels) for some time, but I hadn't known he was also an author.

Having heard the elegance of his extemporaneous speech during interviews, I just had...more
Kirsten
Tiddly tiddly um-pum-pum, bum. Bum, poo and rudies. This autobiography of the first twenty years of Stephen Fry's life is crammed full of boarding school, teachers, the awakening buds of first homosexual frottage, and the screamingly frustrating boundaries imposed on a young, freakishly intelligent aesthete 'à fleur de peau'. However, given that this is an autobiography rather than a piece of fiction, Fry had little choice (although this does beg the question as to why then his fiction is often...more
Jim
A rambling account of Stephen Fry's turbulent schooldays, which sees him expelled three times and put in a young offender's institution before turning his life around and being awarded a scholarship to Queens' (!) College, Cambridge. We see him in this autobiography, at his washpot scrubbing away at "the grime of years". Here he candidly confesses to some shameful acts of kleptomania such as stealing the pension money of the grandmother of a party host. Stephen Fry is forever getting in trouble...more
E
An interesting story written by a brilliant man (could there be anyone alive today more fitting to portray Oscar Wilde in the biopic?), but unfortunately the style of writing was not what I had hoped it would be.

I was entranced by the story he presents of a young boy quite unsurprisingly struggling within the schizoprenic hierarchies and bigotries of his culture and his boarding school, breaking laws and relieved to be caught, and in the end saving himself with his unwavering loyalty to his gre...more
Kim Annabella
Oct 16, 2007 Kim Annabella rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone n their granny
Shelves: biography
I proper loved this. It's a departure for me as to listen to spoken word as I usually read books but come on? Fry's autobiography as read by him.Legend.I found myself nodding in agreement about his not fitting in at school, and his dislike of games although being female mine were for rather different reasons, also I loved his little asides on his likes and whatnot, that bit about a cyborg from the planet aaak pausing in his killing spree on hearing hugh laurie describing the norfolk countryside....more
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Stephen John Fry is an English comedian, writer, actor, humourist, novelist, poet, columnist, filmmaker, television personality and technophile. As one half of the Fry and Laurie double act with his comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, he has appeared in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He is also famous for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of QI. In addition to writing fo...more
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“It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” 901 likes
“Choking with dry tears and raging, raging, raging at the absolute indifference of nature and the world to the death of love, the death of hope and the death of beauty, I remember sitting on the end of my bed, collecting these pills and capsules together and wondering why, why when I felt I had so much to offer, so much love, such outpourings of love and energy to spend on the world, I was incapable of being offered love, giving it or summoning the energy with which I knew I could transform myself and everything around me.” 387 likes
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