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The Hippopotamus

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  5,470 ratings  ·  298 reviews
Ted Wallace is an old, sour, womanising, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic, but he has his faults too. Fired from his newspaper, months behind on his alimony payments and disgusted with a world that undervalues him, Ted seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan. But strange ...more
Audio CD, Unabridged, 9 pages
Published September 2nd 2010 by Random House AudioBooks (first published 1994)
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Since I enjoyed so much reading The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie, and due Stephen Fry is a very good friend of Laurie, and it seemed that Fry's style in novels can be quite similar to Laurie's, I thought that it could be a good idea to try some book by Stephen Fry.

I think that The Hippopotamus wasn't the best first choice. And while I didn't enjoy it so much, I still want to read some other book by Fry in the future. Maybe Making History would be a good option. When I'd read it, I will let you all
Aug 26, 2007 Beli_grrl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: an Anglophile with a dark sense of humor
A thought experiment to characterize the narrator of this book: What if somehow Oscar Wilde and Howard Stern had a son together?

Other reviews led me to believe that the plot would be very loose and mucky. Going into it with low expectations, I was pleasantly surprised when there was a pretty interesting plot and it was tied up rather neatly at the end.

If you are a fan of a good mystery, this is not for you. It is really only a mystery in the broadest sense. Mostly it's a comedy of manners.

I l
The cantankerous, alcoholic, abusive, yet strangely charming hero of The Hippopotamus is clearly based on the late Kingsley Amis, and you can view the whole book as a kind of homage to him. It's a first-person narrative; it starts off with the hero being sacked from his job as a theatre critic for yelling drunken abuse from the stalls, and before we've got to page 20 we've already had a wonderful disquisition on the worthlessness of bottled water and Italian salad greens. (He invites his long-su ...more
Do not bother with this book if you are easily shocked. It features lots of swear words, sexual references and bestiality... is also very entertaining and kept me gripped right up to the end.

The story is told from the point of view of Ted Wallace. He was once a promising poet but hasn’t written anything in years and is now old, cynical and grumpy. He drinks a lot. He also sounds exactly like Stephen Fry. As I read his words I just couldn’t help hearing Stephen Fry in my head. The other cha
This had a sort of P.G. Wodehouse feel to it, but raunchier. Then I got to page 18, where the narrator Ted thinks:
Sometimes, in my dreams, I imagine a world in which women enjoy sex: a world of heterosexual cruising areas in parks and promenades, heterosexual bars, heterosexual back rooms, heterosexual cinemas, heterosexual quarters of the town where women roam, searching for chance erotic encounters with men. Such an image is only conceivable in one's fantasising bedroom, jerked into life by a
Danika Dinsmore
I really had no idea what to expect from this book. I had never read any of Fyr's work before. I randomly grabbed it from the shelf. I was pleasantly surprised, but then again, I have a fondness for dry British humour.

I also have a fondness for anti-heroes, but they have to be intelligent and/or witty and I must empathize with them. This book's protagonist, Ted Wallace, is a "sour, womanizing, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic" - what's not to love? Not everyone
Salla Korpela
Well well, it certainly was juicy and saucy on the surface, but beneath in all its misogyny and cynicism a praise for simple, pure, forgiving, patient love. This is how I actually read it.
The language definitely was a pleasure and, as a non-native English reader, it sent me repeatedly to the Merriam-Webster which, in fact, actually didn't always cope with the idioms.
The structure of the story allowed for a lot of small anecdotes and stories, ponderings, observations and philosophical thought, w
Unlike the usual crap balyhooed by the New York literati, this book is genuinely funny.
Tony Hightower
The plot is a little weak, but you're not going to be reading and enjoying this book primarily for the plot anyway. Not that it's bad by any stretch, it's just that what will keep you moving through the book (and like all Fry's work, it is a quick and highly enjoyable read) is the amazing faculty he has with the language. Not a paragraph goes by without some turn of phrase, some peccadillo of thought, some left-field insight into how his thought process works, that will stop you for a moment and ...more
If you think that there is a discrepancy between giving a book 3 stars and placing it on the "disappointing" shelf, remember that the author is Stephen Fry, someone I think of as being awesomely smart and very funny. His intelligence is evident in this book, but much of the attempted humor falls flat. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that much of it is the kind of humor that might have flown a generation ago (think Kingsley Amis, Wilt Sharpe, Roald Dahl), but is completely jarring in 201 ...more
Ian Thornton
I keep on giving books five stars. Well that's because I am only arsed to read stuff I am very likely to love. Hitler did this, they say, so I am aware of my failing here, but balls, I want to be entertained. Bring on the next five star hit. With an attention span shot to shit like mine from a growing family and lack of sleep, I would be very unlikely to finish stuff I wasn't loving. Anyway, Fry is nearing if not already in the possession of the title of greatest living Englishman, though the ot ...more
Anything by Stephen Fry is brilliant and worth reading. Each book contains so many original ideas and interesting bits of information. It's like reading a dictionary of unusual words.
Jul 02, 2007 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Quite fantastic! A bit of P.G. Wodehouse, but pretty joyous fun. Especially for the quite logical among us. Stephen Fry is amazing and continues to be so in his authorship.
Puh das war eine schwere Aufgabe, mich durch dieses Buch zu quälen. Den britischen Humor in Reinform, wie er im Klappentext avisiert wird, habe ich vergeblich gesucht und nicht gefunden.

Zuerst war mir die Hauptperson, ein alternder Schriftsteller und die Geschichte drumherum zu zynisch. Ich hab zwar gar nix gegen Zynismus, aber wenn er ohne Humor und Selbstironie in seiner reinsten Form präsentiert wird, dann ist er mir zu menschenverachtend. Dann wurde im Roman die "Familie" eingeführt, allesa
I wasn't sure what to make of this to begin with, but I found it increasingly brilliant as I went along.

Stephen Fry has wickedly rewritten the country house detective mystery. Brought it into the modern age, along with associated bad language and cultural references. But realistically, it could have been set any time in the past century. Like P G Wodehouse's novels of upper class English society, it is ageless.

Wodehouse could not have written this, however. Not enough fun, and too much sex. Incl
Thus far I'm totally taken aback. I love it.
Stephen Fry is one of the most brilliant individuals of the current time. To find that he excels in literature as well should be no surprise.
Is it dirty? Absolutely. Is the protagonist an egotistical, whiskey-soaked, misogynist? Absolutely. Remember...this is a work of fiction and try not to get all uppity about some cursing and lewd language. Don't forget that some of the best, and now, most respected works of art, literature, music and theater were
Jenny Sparrow
Если вы никогда не читали Стивена Фрая, советую вам непременно это сделать, но только, упаси Боже, не начинайте с "Гиппопотама"! Человеку, не знакомому с манерой Фрая изъясняться и некоторыми моментами его биографии, эта книга покажется во-первых, местами донельзя вычурной и пустословной, а во-вторых, просто-таки пошлой и вульгарной (из-за обилия нецензурщины в устах главного героя и откровенных сцен и аллюзий). Читайте роман, если вы, как и я, горячо любите Фрая, его иронию, его изысканный язык ...more
The Good:
1. Incredibly witty and well written. You can tell Stephen Fry put in a lot of work crafting each sentence. His sharp wit and charming word play are a delight to read.
2. The storyline, once it appears, is a fun little mystery. At first I thought this was a whimsical tale but it the twist is very appealing and surprising.
3. Its just an unusual little book. A night diversion from what I usually read. I have read Stephen Fry's other novel "The Liar" which was dark and at times disturbing.
Faith: (n) a belief based on things hoped for rather than things seen.

I have faith in a great many things, most of all in literature and authors I admire. So I had faith that the first novel I read from Stephen Fry would allow me to revel in awe of one of the most sophisticated and witty writers in the world today.

Which is why I was startled to confront a first in my long life of reading--a plea for faith, for willing suspension of disbelief...that I could not willingly suspended my disbelief fo
To be honest, I had problems getting into this story. It's not because it's not well written, because Fry writes excellent. It's not because the story isn't good, because it's a great story. No, it's because Ted Wallace is the nastiest, most awful lead character I've ever come across in books. He is small minded, sexist and unpleasant and I had a hard time at first to see beyond his behaviour to the story behind his rather large ego (hence the hippopotamus). Once I got used to Ted the story was ...more
This is a classic example of the superb wit and crude yet eloquent language that Fry is able to weave whilst telling a brilliant story following Ted, a down and out poetic turned theater critic who has been fired from his job and tasked by his god-daughter to solve a bit of a mystery at Swafford Hall a country house in Norfolk. This book is packed with interesting characters that develop well during the story and provide their own entertainment and little quirks. Ted's letters to Jane are highly ...more
Nov 19, 2007 Kerry rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cranky, whiskey-drinking poets
I really really liked this book in the beginning. I enjoyed the cranky, whiskey-drinking poet narrator.

Then it got . . . weird. I was okay with the weird.

Then at the end there was a big detective-story reveal. You know, the whole explain-everything-at-dinner rigmarole. Which was vaguely tedious. And then the very VERY end was anti-climactic. It was all, "oh no, possible tragedy! What will happe-- END SCENE. Epilogue: everything turned out fine!"

All in all, I still enjoyed the book a great deal,
John Wiswell
Jun 24, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Comedy readers, religious readers, very grumpy people
Easily one of the best first person narratives I've read in years. Stephen Fry takes years of his understanding of voice in radio and television and created a hilariously withering personality. The opening alone is worth the cover price, to hear our narator deride women, sex, theatre, art and society. It's so merciless that you can't help but laugh at him and recognize the deficiencies behind his various hatreds. And it's this man who is going to examine the miracle at the center of the plot. Su ...more
Well. A book by Stephen Fry, whom I adore, and I only rate it 2.5 stars. It's not terrible, it's not boring, it's not badly written, it has an unlikeable but at times surprisingly arresting protagonist, and the final 30 pages are a treat for anyone who prefers logical thinking to religious superstition.

But as a whole, the book just seems like a poor excuse to revel in tastefully described tastelessness. It's not particularly witty, it's not excessively funny, it's just an uneven, slightly meande
This book was completely different from what I expected! Any one with any mind adored Stephen Fry so I picked up the book with no more than at two minute glance to see what it was about. I can't say it was m favourite book of all time but it certainly entertained me and was easy to read but with great humour.
On the cover of my copy a review has described it as 'wickedly funny' and I couldn't sum it up better myself. I glad with the way it finished otherwise I think it could have seemed much to
Well, it's Stephen Fry. How can it be anything but delightful? I was pleasantly surprised to find an intriguing examination of how children come to believe things about themselves.

Why aren't there more people as brilliant, witty, and elegant as Fry? Certainly in America, due to our amnesiac collective consciousness and delight in dumbness, we have a substantial dearth of anyone resembling him. If everyone listened to tapes of Stephen Fry discoursing on anything and everything for at least two ho
Nick Karno
One of my favorite books. It's truly a work of genius, on so many levels. I'm not ashamed to say that I teared up a few times during this reading, not only from the humbling kindness the author has for his characters, but from moments that were so funny I wanted to piss myself. This book says volumes about the vulnerability of the human condition. I don't want to say anything since this book was such a surprise. What seems like a quiet climax is actually a very profound statement about all of us ...more
Brilliant, gigglingly funny, contrary to many reviews there is nothing "disgusting" in this book just plain old humanity laid out as it is and humanity is disgusting by nature, as nature is a bunch of kids giggling at the monkeys spanking off at the zoo no point being prudishly shocked by this or the less or more imaginative consensual activities of man. "Disgusting" is "war", "oppression" "persecution" not wanking or swearing or writing ... Get a grip it's a funny story... Oh the "young Cossack ...more
it's laugh-out-loud funny at times, and pleasant the rest of the time. ted wallace, the poet protagonist seems a modern version of bertie wooster, up until the end, when he has shows the perspicacity of jeeves. i suspect it isn't a coincidence fry, and his best friend hugh laurie, starred in the BBC adaptation of wodehouse' jeeves and wooster stories, which ran just prior to the publication of this book. living wodehouse for four years would no doubt have an influence on one's writing. i am curi ...more
This has to be the funniest book that I have ever read. It is absolutely outrageously disgustingly funny. I kneel in the shadow of Fry's excellence.

It takes a bit to get there and Fry does love waffling on and showing off how many words he knows and can invent, but bear with it. The turns and sub-plots and some of the waffling too is simply simply delightful. I am not going to go into the actual story, the lesser you know before reading the better. Suffice to say, its an absolut must read for Fr
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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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“But you can't argue that the world isn't in an unhealthy moral state."

"Wouldn't think of it dearest. People lie, cheat, rape, swindle, kill, maim, torture and destroy. Bad thing. People also pop into bed together and cosy up. Good thing. If we think fucking is a sign of moral decay then we're a little bit stupid-stupid, aren't we?”
“In a dung heap, even a plastic bead can gleam like a sapphire.” 16 likes
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