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Memoir #2

The Fry Chronicles

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Stephen Fry arrived at Cambridge on probation: a convicted fraudster and thief, an addict, liar, fantasist and failed suicide, convinced that at any moment he would be found out and flung away.

Instead, university life offered him love, romance, and the chance to stand on a stage and entertain. He met and befriended bright young things like Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie and (after working out how to cheat the university examination system) emerged as one of the most promising comic talents in the country.

This is the intriguing, hilarious and utterly compelling story of how the Stephen the nation knows (or thinks it knows) began to make his presence felt as he took his first tentative steps in the worlds of television, journalism, radio, theatre and film. Shameful tales of sugar, shag and champagne jostle with insights into credit cards, classic cars, and conspicuous consumption, "Blackadder," Broadway and the BBC.

For all its trademark wit and verbal brilliance, this is a book that is not afraid to confront the aching chasm that separates public image from private feeling. Welcome to "The Fry Chronicles," one of the boldest, bravest, most revealing and heartfelt accounts of a man's formative years that you will ever have the exquisite pleasure of reading.

438 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2010

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About the author

Stephen Fry

79 books9,846 followers
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 for stage, screen, television and radio he has contributed columns and articles for numerous newspapers and magazines, and has also written four successful novels and a series of memoirs.

See also Mrs. Stephen Fry as a pseudonym of the author.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,215 reviews
Profile Image for Addie Lansdown.
14 reviews9 followers
January 6, 2012
This was a quick read as I love Stephen Fry and have been curious about his career. His writing is lyrical, captivating and a linguistic joy to read, he has a seemingly effortless ability to conjure whirling syntax and employ endless alliterations and double rhyme scheme. The downfalls of this work were an inexcusable amount of repetition, self deprecation to the point of farce and mindless name dropping which did tend to disconnect the reader. It also would have served well to be much shorter. And yet, I loved his masterful use of language, his honest insights into his own struggles and misgivings and the British mischievousness and turn of phrase many have come to love him for. I liked this book - I just wanted to like it much more.
Profile Image for Ms. Smartarse.
590 reviews249 followers
November 5, 2017
If there is ever someone who can make me "swoon" by reading the phone book, it's Stephen Fry. Because when he does, you are damn well getting a show. And that's about the main reason for the high rating of this book.

Had I tried to read this book, as opposed to listening to it, there's a high possibility I would've dropped it half-way through. As terrible as it may sound, I was dreadfully bored throughout most of the experience.


Luckily for the author, his reading/acting voice makes everything so much better, which is what earned the book at least 1.5 stars. The fact that Stephen Fry basically attended Hogwarts twice (elementary school AND university), earned it yet another star. And then the funny stuff added 1 more star. See reading updates for the latter.

When I first visited London, I was constantly having people repeat themselves when talking to me. On the one hand, I was obviously unfamiliar with the variety of English accents and it took me some time to mentally process some of them. On the other hand, I was so excited to be surrounded by everything and anything British that I forgot to actually pay attention to the content of what I was being told, too busy enjoying the English-ness of it all.

British accent makes me tingly inside

This second aspect describes about 80% of my experience listening to the audio-book. And yes, that meant that I would frequently have to rewind it, after realizing that I had tuned out the last half an hour. Not that it was unpleasant, but writing more than 2 paragraphs waxing lyrical about the voice of the author tends to get tedious (for you) and embarrassing (for me).

Score: 3.7/5 stars

If you like serious biographies, choose a different book. If you find overpaid celebrities annoying, get another reading material.

On the other hand, if you don't like serious stuff, but feel that comic delivery can impress some gravitas on you, consider giving this book a chance. And of course, if you think British accent can manage to tingle your ears in a most pleasant fashion, by all means give the book a listen. Even if only for a few minutes.
Profile Image for Caroline.
503 reviews564 followers
February 24, 2016
For me there are various Stephen Frys. The Fry of Blackadder, the Fry of Stephen Fry in America and the Fry of QI. This book seemed very much written by the Fry of QI, diffident, knowledgeable, charming - and at times a tad outrageous. This is my favourite Fry, so I was fine with that.

His original thinking and love of language fill the book with finesse and wonderfully unpredictable perspectives. His love of words rather less so. There are a few cascades and pools of words where you just have to hold your nose and dive in, in order to get through them.

I was particularly smitten with his description of his years as a student in Cambridge, and his love for the city and for that life. I lived in Cambridge in my late teens – I worked there in a bookshop – and much of what he said resonated with my experiences. It is a magical place, and it was great to have that magic evoked once again. He really does this beautifully, and I was quite filled with nostalgia.

Fry took to the world of acting with a vengeance, belonging to several clubs in Cambridge and sometimes literally running from one play to the next. He is a lovey to the core. Perhaps the archetypal lovey to end all loveys. His unfortunate experiences as a book reviewer illustrated to him how impossible it was for him to be rude about anyone.

”There are all kinds of responses and attitudes that can justify the art and practice of reviewing, but none of them, not a one, addresses the question of how you live with yourself if your wicked wit, shrewd insight and scornful judgement will have hurt someone, will have them crying themselves to sleep. Or worse still, how you can live with yourself if you realize that you have become the kind of person who does not even care that they regularly cause pain, suffering, discouragement and loss of self-regard in those trying to earn a living in their field?”

Instead he prefers looking at people through a veil of unmitigated admiration. He name drops. Of course he name drops. He puts all his friends on pedestals, and is awed by their success. He wants us to be awed too.

More surprising are the passages about the angst that he experiences. His severe disgust with his own behaviours and acting abilities. These are interspersed with references to great happiness - happiness in his friendships, his successes, and all the toys and luxuries that his burgeoning wealth can confer. He frequently talks about the difference between the image he projects, and what he is actually feeling inside. These extremes between happiness and self-loathing seem to reflect realistically his diagnosis of bi-polar disorder.

I was also surprised to read about his partner relationships, and lack of these relationships. But throughout the book Fry is unbendingly honest - in fact that seems the bottom line for his writing - that he will be totally honest about himself. He therefore talks about his love life or lack of it as candidly as anything else.

I personally have a lot of time for nice people, all the more so when they come with a wallop of sensitivity, intelligence and originality. Stephen Fry has all of these things. Plus a wonderful seasoning of humour. What a sweet man and what a fabulous writer. A great read.

Profile Image for R.
34 reviews60 followers
July 9, 2011
"Hullo. Most awfully sorry to bother you and all that, but I'm Stephen Fry and I thought that just possibly - if you are most unutterably consumed with tedium and are simply the most heinous glutton for punishment - you might like to read my second memoir, the story of a liar, a fraud, and a fake. And a national treasure, apparently. But I'm not too sure about that last one at all."
Profile Image for James.
427 reviews
February 27, 2018
‘The Fry Chronicles’ (2010) is the second of Stephen Fry’s autobiographies – being preceded by ‘Moab is my Washpot’ (1997) and succeeded by ‘More Fool Me: A Memoir’ (2014) – neither of which I have read; similarly I have not yet embarked on any of Fry’s novels. Starting this autobiography, I was aware of the commercial success and critical acclaim heaped upon both Fry’s autobiographies as well as his works of fiction.

‘Fry Chronicles’ charts Fry’s progress over a seven year period leading up to his arrival at Cambridge through to his first flushes of significant success as an accomplished writer, comic and actor. As you would expect from Stephen Fry – ‘Chronicles’ is erudite, entertaining, verbose (although thankfully not overly so) intelligent and as is his wont, brutally and candidly honest.

In addition to the usual charting of progress (both scholarly and creative) and amusing anecdotes – there is much throughout which goes way beyond self-effacing and self-deprecation to the extent of self-loathing and deep personal insecurities. The book is imbued with this throughout along with a sense of what is now termed the ‘imposter syndrome’ – self-aggrandizing this is not. There is much also concerned with Fry’s addictive personality or behaviour – whether it be sugar, nicotine, cars, houses, technology…

Fry as you would expect, is extremely self-aware and certainly very conscious of how his self-loathing, self-pitying and apparent lack of happiness may be perceived by many as incongruous and at odds with his level of success, remuneration, opportunities offered and taken – Fry is ostensibly successful, latterly privileged, but seemingly still not happy. However, Fry is certainly not self-pitying and neither does he expect pity from the reader, he is apparently just being honest.

As such then, ‘The Fry Chronicles’ provides a competent, amusing, entertaining and honest account of some of the formative years of the acknowledged, but deeply insecure and flawed, national treasure that is Stephen Fry.

Profile Image for Trevor.
1,294 reviews21.7k followers
December 1, 2010
I didn’t like this nearly as much as I hoped I would. Look, it isn’t an awful book – it is nicely put together and is mostly interesting. I think my main problem with it is that a lot of it is about very well known people Fry knows and has worked with padded out with descriptions of shows he has been in. Some of this is interesting and even funny. A lot of it becomes a bit the same after a while. I became a bit tired of hearing about how incredibly talented or funny or talentedly funny or funnily talented someone or other was and I can only assume probably still is.

There are things I like about Fry – I like anyone that can write an autobiography and say honest things about themselves. However, there is a certain masochistic tendency to Fry that is a bit reminiscent of how I feel about myself too frequently for me to have any sympathy for him.

Fry is someone, and he says this about himself, that everyone wants to project their own image onto. This image is not necessarily their own image, but an image of what they would like him to be. In my world he would be better read and more interested in ideas than in the cars and other symbols of success he seems obsessed with. But this is mainly because I have no interest in those things and find it sad to hear someone going on about them as if they mattered. Oh, look, I know he is very self-deprecating even about these foibles and when he starts talking about his numerous cars he explains why he thinks he has them – but even that becomes a bit tedious after a while.

It is hard not to like him, though. We Anglo-Celtic-Saxon types generally don’t like or trust intellectuals. And that could easily be a definition of our ‘race’. And so to like or trust them we need them to be either witty or eccentric. Fry has perfected the art of being both, he is witty and eccentric and is considered intellectual as well. The danger is – as with all comedy and eccentricity – that what people find delightful and charming and wonderful today they find, and in equal measure, the perfect excuse to despise and loathe and ostracise over the next.

There is a part of me that suspects that his life for the eight years or so that this book covers probably was much as he sets out here – lacking in sex, but overflowing in money and success and work. And I guess it would be hard for him to talk about things other than work as he probably didn’t have much time for much else and anyway, he might have to say things about his famous friends that might complicate matters.

This is a fan’s book. The stark light is turned inward and often what is shown isn’t terribly attractive, but I guess we are sometimes attracted more to the ugly side of others. Nevertheless, it wasn’t nearly as interesting a read as Moab is My Washpot – volume one of this continuing saga – and volume three sounds like it may not be much to look forward to. I’ll probably read it when it comes out, though.

I must get around to watching Blackadder one of these days. Everyone raved about it when it was on and so some time later I got out the first series and watched that and really couldn’t see what people saw in it – I’ve found out from this book that the first series was crap and it only took off with series two. Like I said, must get around to watching it at some stage.
Profile Image for Jinny Chung.
150 reviews7 followers
March 4, 2012
I am a Fryophile. The first half of this is perfect! --Until he begins to mercilessly name-drop (moar liek name-bomb). A note to Stephen: we don't care about them. We care about YOU.

“I am sure that I am right in locating my first addiction here. Sugar Puffs were the starting link in a chain that would shackle me for most of my life. To begin with, as you might imagine, they were a breakfast habit. But soon I was snacking on them at any time of day until my mother began to sigh at the number of packets she was forced to buy. I would eat the sweet pellets loose from the box. One after the other, without stopping, into the mouth they would go. I was like an American at the cinema with popcorn: eyes glazed, hand rising and falling pack-to-mouth, pack-to-mouth, pack-to-mouth like a machine.
“ ‘Eyes glazed’. Is that important? A child at the breast or bottle has that look. There is a sexual element to such unfocused fixity. Until I was about eight or nine I sucked the first two fingers of my left hand. Almost all the time. While twiddling the hair on the crown of my head with the fingers of the right hand. And always with that glazed, faraway look, with parted lips and laboured breath. Was I giving myself the breast treat that I had been denied? These are dark waters, Watson.
“Cereal-packet lists of ingredients and serving suggestions were my literature; thiamine, riboflavin and niacin my mysterious invisible friends. Sold by weight not volume. Contents may have settled during transport. Insert finger under flap and move from side to side. They’re Gr-r-r-r-r-r-r-eat! We like Ricicles, they’re twicicles as nicicles. And so they were. In fact, as I liked to say, they were thricicles as nicicles. Certainly much nicicler than their staid, unsweetened parent, Rice Krispies…”


"All you need know is that I, my 128 kilobyte Macintosh, Imagewriter bitmap printer and small collection of floppy disks were all very, very happy together. What possible need could I have for sex or human relationships when I had this?"


"Alan Bennett was out in the street, attaching bicycle clips to his trousers.
" 'Are you going to join us for spaghetti?' I asked him.
" 'Yes, do!' said the boys.
" 'Oh no,' said Alan, in slightly shocked tones, as if we were inviting him to a naked orgy in an opium den. 'I shall cycle home and have a poached egg.' "


"Although we were not really well known and certainly like as famous as Harry and Ben were becoming, there was a sizeable enough demand for us in college and university towns, it seemed, and a tour was arranged. We wrote and stared out of the window and paced up and down and bought Big Macs and looked out of the window and went for walks and tore at our hair and swore and watched television and bought more Big Macs and swore again and wrote and screamed with horror as the clock showed that another day was over and we looked at what we had written and groaned and agreed to meet again first thing next day whosever turn it was agreeing to arrive with some coffee and Big Macs."
Profile Image for Paul.
2,308 reviews20 followers
November 20, 2017
Another volume of entertaining and illuminating autobiography from Mr. Fry. The only reason I haven't given this five stars is because it goes over some of the same ground as the first volume; the repetition of one anecdote in particular seeming very odd.
Profile Image for James.
607 reviews112 followers
September 30, 2012
It is a rare individual who warrants multiple volumes of autobiography – Stephen Fry joins the heady society of Russell Brand and Chris Moyles in such a belief. Whereas Moab is My Washpot covers his childhood years – growing up, family life, schools, getting thrown out of schools, and ending up in prison – The Fry Chronicles tells of the later years – teaching, Cambridge, drama clubs, relationships, The Fringe, and so on, through to his success as playwright, columnist, actor and comedian.

This volume begins with an explanation of Stephen's addictive personality. We are introduced to his addictions to Sugar Puffs, sweets, cigarettes, coffee, in fact he appears to be able to become addicted to almost anything beginning with C (C12H22O11 is used to refer to all sugars generically and candy is also used for sweets). Obviously, the additional addictions to computers (the purchase of) and the implied addiction to another C substance come later; but disappointingly I was waiting with bated breath for his admission of debasing addictions to eating cabbage and chicken, visits to Cairo and dressing up as Chewbacca, none of which get even a mention. Strangely, not only does Stephen only seem to become addicted to things that begin with the letter C, but the letter seems to be the compass of his entire life. The book is broken into two halves: College to Colleague and Comedy. These two sections are further broken down into a number of sub-chapters each of which begins with the letter C. He's addicted to the use of the letter C apparently. The reason for this alliteration is never explained, nor is its existence ever referred to. Very strange indeed.

As you'd expect for Stephen, and indeed for almost any autobiography, the book is self-indulgent. We are treated to repeated sections describing his borderline self-loathing, his lack of self-belief and his need to continuously seek acceptance from others. His continual name dropping throughout the book is presumably part of that. We're supposed to be, not exactly impressed, but slightly 'wowed' that Stephen knows all these people as friends. Mostly because Stephen himself is 'wowed' by them himself. That said, his life does read a lot like a who's who of modern comedians, actors, writers, luvvies etc. There doesn't seem to be many people he hasn't met or worked with. Having really only come to him during his time on Saturday Live, and later A Bit of Fry and Laurie, the amount of work he appears to have generated prior to this staggered me. I thought I was a reasonably early fan, but was in fact quite late to the party.

This second volume feels a lot slicker and more grown up than the previous one – as it should – but that's also it's weakness. It's not as raw or revealing. Stephen seems a lot more comfortable with this part of his history than the earlier sections, and the book frequently risks falling into a stream of self-indulgent name dropping. There were some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments – I snorted loudly a couple of times which disconcerted a number of fellow passengers – but it's Stephen Fry dammit, he's a national treasure or institution or whatever, we love him both because and in spite of what he is.
Profile Image for Moira.
512 reviews25 followers
July 4, 2013
I was all set to LOVE this book, and then it ends right before he takes his first hit of cocaine -- just stops. I guess he felt the book was long enough, or it would take 2 or 3 times its length to get into his drug abuse (after all the time he devoted to sugar), or he didn't want to go into it all.....but God, it ends so unceremoniously. That's really disappointing.

That said, the book is pretty amazing -- everyone told me it's not as good as Moab is My Washpot, and no, it's not, but there are still many amazing passages. Also, every psychiatrist should read this to see pretty much just what a bipolar consciousness feels like from the inside.

ETA A dear friend has informed me this is a case of Lady Don't Fall Backwards: http://www.thrillingdetective.com/eye...
Profile Image for Lucy.
307 reviews31 followers
February 2, 2011
At first I thought I was going to adore this biography. The opening chapter started with a caveat that is extremely close to my heart "in every particular I fail Strunk's Elements of Style or any other manual of 'good writing'. If a thing can be said in ten words, I may be relied upon to take a hundred to say it... I love words and whilst I am fond of the condensed and economical use of them in poetry, in song lyrics, in Twitter, in good journalism and smart advertising, I love the luxuriant profusion and mad scatter of them too". He then explained his love for sugar.

Hallelujah thought I, finally a book which embraces my loquacious sugar- coated spirit. For the first few chapters I thoroughly enjoyed Mr Fry's adventures in ridiculous vocabulary. Then I realised, I might just loathe him as a person. He fully acknowledges that he is an arrogant twit but somehow this self-realisation did very little to quench my desire to biff him in the nose and tell him to wake up to the real world. Unfortunately this urge to biff continued for the majority of the book.

Happily, about 3/4s of the way through I began to warm to Stephen again, he became less of unbearable pompous upper-class git to more of a slightly amusing pompous upperclass git and by the end of the book I was enjoying his little rants/forays of inflection. I especially enjoyed the part in which he professes his love for fame and his thorough disappointment at the failure of anyone to recognise him following his first tv performance. This made me laugh a lot because about 10 years ago I happened to spot Mr Fry on Carnaby Street in London and (it being my first celebrity spot ever) exclaimed to my friend "Hey is that Stephen Fry?". He clearly overheard and shot me a look that would make milk curdle. Love fame my arse.

It was a fun book and I did enjoy it. It was a little much, perhaps, for one sitting and is something that should be dipped in and out of.

Profile Image for Sam.
3,185 reviews235 followers
January 13, 2012
I loved this, the second installment in Fry's quest to document his life, loves and complete mishaps. Stephen is brutally, unashamedly and occasionally ashamedly honest about his time at Cambridge and his initial forays into the world of comedy writing and performing. While this period does not have quite the same instensity as his first book it still has plenty of moments where you can't help but go 'Oh Stephen, really?' He is one of the few writers whose voices I can imagine as I read, which shows how his use of the written word matches that of the spoken word and for that I love him all the more. Yes, there is a fair amount of name dropping in the later chapters but to me this came across mildly embarassing yet necessary as we follow Stephen's career from the small stage to the large. I can't wait until the next book (and in the meantime I'll continue to attack his fictional works and obsessively watch QI, Blackadder and others). He may not be everybody's national treasure but he is certainly one of mine.
Profile Image for Emily Crowe.
355 reviews129 followers
September 3, 2014
Let's just say that if I weren't happily married, and if Stephen Fry weren't happily gay, I'm pretty sure we'd be soulmates.
Profile Image for dontpanic.
39 reviews19 followers
August 11, 2020
Megvan az az érzés, hogy pontosan tudod, mit olvasnál, csak a könyv nincs meg hozzá?
Én is így voltam pár hete, kerengtem a könyvespolc körül, kiábrándult hangulatban. Pontosan éreztem az élet kiábrándultságát, és azt akartam, a könyv is tudja, hogy érzem, de ne húzzon le még mélyebbre. Ne legyen túl tragikus és sötét, de ne legyen bárgyú és az élettől túlzottan elrugaszkodott sem. Azt akartam, hogy cinikus éleslátással kacsintson össze velem az élet lehetetlensége felett.
És akkor megakadt a szemem Stephen Fry önéletrajzán. Ritkán történik az életben, hogy az ember pontosan azt kapja, amire vágyik, de én komolyan, olyan elégedetten vettem le a könyvet a polcról, mintha akkor manifesztálódott volna az igényeim mentén.

Hiába töröm a fejem, már nem tudom felidézni, minek kapcsán ismertem meg Stephen Fryt. Csak azt tudom, hogy ott van az életemben, mint egy távoli nagybácsi, akivel nem túl szoros a kapcsolat, de ha összejövünk, tuti, jól fogunk szórakozni. (Mint kiderült, Fry egyik ágon magyar nagyapával rendelkezik, szóval a nagybácsi kép nem is olyan elrugaszkodott.)

Stephen Fry élete tele van olyan momentumokkal, amik megírásra érdemesek - gondoltam én. Milyen lehetett melegnek lenni a hatvanas/hetvenes évek Angliájában, hogyan küzdött meg drogfüggőségével és a bipoláris zavarral. Hát, igen, ha őszinte akarok lenni, bizony vonzottak életének "bulváros" részletei. De gondoltam, egy Stephen Fry kaliberű ember önéletrajzában ezek mégsem bulváros módon lesznek leírva, szóval fel is mentettem magam azonnal. Csak hogy jó nagyot koppanjak, ugyanis ezekről a részletekről szinte semmi szó nem esik a könyvben, se bulvárosan, se bulvártalanul. Persze, a melegsége érintve van, ír partnerekről, és egyszer-kétszer tesz valami megjegyzést ezzel kapcsolatban, de sem belső megélésről, sem arról, a környezete hogyan állt a kérdéshez, sem a kapcsolatairól nem ír sokat. A mentális problémák sincsenek explicitté téve, persze a könyvből sugárzik Fry belső világának összetettsége, de hogy hogyan diagnosztizálták a bipoláris zavarral, és ez hogyan érintette mindennapjait, az ebből a könyvből nem derül ki.
A könyv zárósorain fogyasztja el első kokaincsíkjait, és belengeti, hogy micsoda következményei lettek ennek a szippantásnak, illetve, hogy ez majd egy következő könyv anyaga lesz. De ilyenformán, azt mondom, ez nagyon sportszerűtlen lezárás, az olvasó kíváncsiságával szemben.

Hogy ettől rossz lesz-e ez a könyv? Közel sem. De az az igazság, hogy a felszínen nem túl izgalmas. Pedig lehetne, kokaintól, fülledt, erotikus kalandoktól és mentális zavarodottságtól eltekintve is. De itt az anekdoták faxgépekről és előrendelt autókról szólnak, tulajdonképpen semmi izgalmas, de tényleg. Azt gondolnád, mégis történt valami igazán emlékezetes Anglia egyik legnagyobb humoristájával, de ha történt is, azt ebben a könyvben elhallgatja. (Kivétel talán a gyerekkora, javítóintézettel és egyéb nyalánkságokkal.)

Amitől mégis élvezetes a könyv, az Fry totális őszintesége. Bevallja, hogy ő igen is híres akart lenni, ahogy azt is, hogy kínzóan vágyik mindenki elismerésére, meg azt is, hogy ő bizony nem tesz úgy, mintha a barátairól őszinte kritikákat írna - a barátság fontosabb, mint a művészi integritás, és ő nem fog rosszat írni egy hozzá közel álló emberről sem. Vagy az, amikor arról ír, hogy mennyire nem érzi egyezőnek a róla kialakított külső képet azzal, ami belül benne zajlik. És így tovább. Rengeteg olyan dolgot oszt meg kendőzetlenül, amiben a gyarló olvasó magára ismerhet, de még a legközelebbi barátainak is csak szemlesütve beszél ezekről, nem hogy leírja egy nemzetközileg kiadott önéletrajzban. Imádtam ezt az őszinteséget, még ha néha egy kicsit sok is volt a sok elnézéskérés és szabadkozás. Pedig éreztem, hogy ez is sz��vből jön, nem csak egy póz.

Ez a könyv tényleg olyan, mint Stephen Fry - nem váltja meg a világot, nem ez lesz életed meghatározóbb olvasmányélménye, nem tudod megmondani, mitől is olyan élvezetes, de amikor olvasod, nem tudsz másra figyelni, csak azt veszed észre, hogy valami érthetetlen okból rettentő jól szórakozol.

Amit még a bulváros részleteknél is jobban vártam, az az a rész volt, amikor Douglas Adamsről ír. Tudtam, hogy jóban voltak, és nagyon kíváncsi voltam, miként fog szerepelni a könyvben Adams. Végül is egy pár oldalban volt szó róla, abban is főleg a kütyük iránt érzett ellenállhatatlan vonzódásuk volt a téma. Kicsit szomorú lettem, amikor áttért más témára, de hát ez van. Nem lehet mindenki Douglas Adams, de azért a szórakoztató nagybácsik is fontosak és értékesek.
Profile Image for George.
2,193 reviews
February 8, 2022
An interesting account of the author’s eventful, hard working life from 1977 to 1987. He enrols at Oxford with the expectation on becoming a teacher. Whilst at Oxford he joins theatre groups, partaking in acting roles and writing plays. He meets Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie. Laurie and Fry discover that they collaborate well, writing comedy sketches. He writes the Broadway hit, ‘Me and My Girl’. Goes on tours with a comedy group. Lands a part in the television series, ‘Blackadder’ (series two). He joins a number of theatrical organisations and becomes quite wealthy. The book ends with Fry and Laurie attaining a contract to write and act in a half hour weekly comedy routine for television called ‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’.

Fry is very self deprecating and honest. Readers interested in the author should find this book an interesting, entertaining read.

This book was first published in 2010.
Profile Image for John Braine.
362 reviews38 followers
September 17, 2015
A quote that's been regurgitated again and again this year is the most arrogant and smug thing I've read this year year, that Stephen Fry is "A stupid person’s idea of what an intelligent person looks like". I can't ever recall anyone regarding him with genius status. He's well learned and quite knowledgeable. Someone with a thirst for knowledge and a great memory. Yes, of course that doesn't equate to intelligence, but why be so arrogant about it?

There's a lot of Fry Haters out there. I guess it's the inevitable backlash because he's well liked by so many. I'm one of the latter.

Anyway - the book. It's good but nothing of any breathtaking depth. It's mostly about the career path of him and his chums. He barely touches on subjects like mental health. I did enjoy the bit of probing he does on personality types such as himself but would have preferred to hear a bit more rather than haring so much about other people. Was surprised to hear he was in prison for stealing and that's not a spoiler, it's the very start of the book but otherwise no major surprises or revelations.

To be chalked up along side Mark Kermode, that's one more author who's the perfect narrator for his own audio book. Wouldn't have been right for anyone else to do it.
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,941 reviews430 followers
May 12, 2018
Ah, Stephen. A 5 star man, 1-5 star anecdotes with 5 star humour. 5 stars for the veneration of Alan Bennett (55 stars?) and another 5 stars for including stories about him. 1 star for being a relentless twat, but 5 stars for being someone whom I love enough to forgive such a thing. 3 stars overall because there wasn't enough Alan Bennett. No, I jest. It just seemed an awful lot of pages just for 10 or so years. Even if there were chocka full to the brim of, well, EVERYTHING.

Full review to follow.
Profile Image for MichelleG.
393 reviews95 followers
June 28, 2016
This is a fascinating peak behind the curtains type of tale that really sucks you in and tale you along for the ride. Absolutely excellent book.
Profile Image for Waffles.
141 reviews19 followers
May 30, 2018
I rate this book 666 stars!

This book saved my life. It brought me out of a state of deep despair and anger.

I won't quote anything because there are too many choice titbits to share and you deserve the pleasure of discovering them for yourself.

The Gideons should reprint this and place copies in all hotel rooms and twice-a-year disctribute free copies on campuses throughout the world.
Profile Image for Huw Rhys.
508 reviews12 followers
March 21, 2011
Oh dear - I looked forward to this book, and if ever I was convinced I'd enjoy a book before starting to read it, this was the book.

Every one of Stephen Fry's previous books - factual and fictional - have been a joy to read. I'm also a massive Stephen Fry fan, so this really was going to be my reading highlight of the year.

As with many things in life, the anticipation was the most exciting and rewarding part of the journey.

For once, Stephen Fry let me down. The whole book started off badly - an apology for the pompous verbosity we were about to suffer from the author. Stephen, Stephen, Stephen - it's your pompous verbosity we love, so for goodness sake don't apologise for it. But this was just the taste of things to come - the book became a. a list of people he'd acted with and b. a list of apologies for traits in his character.

Time after time he states that he wants and needs people to like him - yet just as often, he tells us things he doesn't like about himself. It's an age old truism that if you don't like yourself, others won't like you either. Much as I love the whole package that is Stephen Fry, I did find this book very hard to like.

He tells us a lot of things about himself that is fairly self-evident to anyone who reads his writing, watches him performing or indeed just enjoys him being himself in his various online and onscreen guises. He's pompous, can be a bit arrogant, stands for everything that the "traditional cliche" of the Englishman is meant to be, he's extremely clever and multi talented. He also keeps telling us how very, very rich he is. And then he apologises for everything.

We all know that Stephen Fry has his black times - it's part of the complex collection of traits which makes him vulnerable, attractive and .... human to most of us. But apart from the odd stanza in this second instalment of his autobiography - and the odd part of it does stand out as a beacon of loveable Fry-y-ness - you do get the sense that he's written this book whilst his mind is at the very bottom of one of his black troughs.

I think I can understand why he's written this book - he's almost ashamed of a lot of what life has given him, and I think he genuinely wants to apologise for many of the traits which a minority of people dislike about him. It's almost as if this book has been written to appease the 0.00001% of admittedly noisy Fry- dislikers in this world. But what about the other 99.99999% who actually quite like him?

Maybe there is a method to his madness - maybe we'll see loads of reviews from "Fry-dislikers" saying how this book has turned around their opinion of him. But then the "Fry-dislikers" are hardly likely to read this book in the first place, are they?

I'm not sorry I read this book - there were some really uplifting, insightful and entertaining passages in it. They struggled for air space amongst so much ankst though. But the ankst itself was fascinating, if a little painful. A bit like life itself really. So although this book doesn't get a great mark from me, it's a strange one, because it was very compelling reading, but in a car crashey sort of way. And I would still give my right arm to have the talent Stephen Fry has in his right, small fingernail, even just the white bit of that fingernail.

You just know his next book is going to be brilliant.
Profile Image for Thomas Edmund.
911 reviews56 followers
February 12, 2013
I understand that this is the second biographical account of Mr Fry. Moab is my Washpot covered the first 20 years of his life and published in 1997. while I can understand the logic of producing a 'developing years' biography, then penning the rest later on I'm not sure why Fry has to go all The Hobbit on us with his life's tale.

Frustrations with the conclusion of this piece aside - what is it actually like?

Well to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure.

The book starts with an apology for being apologetic, not a great start in my opinion. However Fry does deliver as promised, not a polished positive spin on himself, but a genuine expose. The problem is between Fry's predictable verbosity and florid prose I suspect he has succeeded in keeping much of who he is secret. Sure he candidly reveals many parts of his life, such as his reaction to fame (sometimes perceived fame) and his famous colleagues. However I often found myself wondering if Fry was skipping over much of what I thought biographies were about, namely the relationships in his life, and the moments those relationships changed.

Fry does discuss his entire platonic admiration of Hugh Laurie (House,) his envy and worship of Rowan Atkinson (Bean) and others such as Emma Thomson and Rik Mayall. But somehow I felt like much was missing. Perhaps as Fry begs mercy for, his life is indeed plain, or more likely he simply did not wish to delve too deeply into content which related to those closest to him.

I'm also none too sure how Fry chose his material for discussion, at times I felt bored by the long lists of names, and while his QI-esque forays into historical or factoid discussion were often enjoyable, they were just as equally dull and diminished the true interest of the piece (Fry himself) although as suspected above Fry may have intentionally been avoiding this subject.

If it sounds like I totally hated this book, this simply isn't the case. The Fry Chronicles are by no means a bad read - Fry's languid prose is such that the book is an ease to read from cover to cover. Fry's insights into the human and his own condition are often not only astute but at times heart-rendering. Despite being frustrated that this piece has a to be continued I am enthused enough to wait with baited breath for the next, and pickup his previous to delve into more Fry-insight...
Profile Image for Caroline.
592 reviews799 followers
June 8, 2015
STEPHEN Fry is that person I manage to always see on TV or making an appearance in a movie. I never quite knew what it was about him that made him so likeable but there was definitely something there. I was on holiday with my family and had 'absolutely nothing' to read. A trip to the bookstore later and ‘The Fry Chronicles’ was mine.
I didn’t realise until well after finishing the book that there was one before it called ‘Moab is my Washpot’. Fortunately for me (and for any reader) this books stands on its own. Not having read the one prior to it had no real impact on my reading my level of enjoyment. The book is focussed on a seven year period in his life. Each chapter begins with the letter ‘C’ and document his time at Cambridge and his career as a working man. We are told everything from his release from prison to the meeting of some (to-be) very famous friends and the beginning of his career.
This book gave me a reason to love Stephen Fry. ‘Eloquence’ does not even come close to conveying the effortlessness with which he writes. I don't think I am capable of describing his writing style so here is a small excerpt which sums it up nicely:
“If a thing can be said in ten words, I may be relied upon to take a hundred to say it… I like words- strike that, I love words- and while I am fond of the condensed and economical use of them in poetry, in song lyrics, in Twitter, in good journalism and smart advertising, I love the luxuriant profusion and mad scatter of them too.”
Fry uses long and complex words. At one point during reading, I encountered a word so discombobulating that even google was unable to define it! One of the things I loved the most about this book was Fry’s love of words. I loved having to google definitions so that I could add them to my vocabulary. He is so passionate about the words he puts on the page that I could not help but develop the same enthusiasm.
This book is candid and sincere. It is written so honestly and with such delightful spatterings of humour that I was almost sad when I reached the end. I much preferred the first half of the book to the second. This is probably because a lot of the events, films and people referenced in the second half were ‘before my time’ and I became slightly confused at times. This did not lessen my enjoyment though. The Fry Chronicles was an absolute pleasure to read from cover to cover.
Profile Image for Lucie.
149 reviews33 followers
August 5, 2019
I have loved Stephen, for QI, for his cameo in St. Trinian's and not least for his narration of the Harry Potter audiobooks, so I'll admit my expectations for this book were high. However, while there are a few funny turns of phrase and some witty rejoinders, on the whole, it seems as if he hasn't put much effort into the quality of the writing. I tend to suspect that after his previous success he took for granted that another autobiography with *His* name on the cover would sell well and that he didn't need to bother being creative or original. Large sections of the book are devoted to lists of people or events and he devotes endless chapters to raving and apologising about how he is so privileged, unworthy, YADA YADA YADA. Get over it Stephen! No one really cares, or gives it that much thought, or at least they wouldn't if they didn't have to hear you constantly whinging on about it!

I'm afraid I took particular affront to a part where he compares people who lament their lack of knowledge (about, say, the Hundred Years' War or string theory or what have you) to beggars in a city with gold lined pavements. Supposedly, anyone who is curious simply has to trawl through wikipedia or the library or watch documentaries to their heart's content to know everything they could wish to. Because, of course, we all have countless spare hours to devote to such whims...

In fact, I was surprised at his stance on a few issues, because I would have thought his mental health issues might have provided him a bit more insight and empathy. I can only assume he has never experienced such struggles alongside other constraints such as unavoidable obligation, physical health problems, trauma, disaster or plain old LACK OF FUNDS.

Okay rant over.

I'm disappointed, as this has knocked Mr. Fry down in my estimations. However, I have heard that his earlier book, ('something something Washpot'?) is much more palatable and I'm not averse to the idea of giving him a second chance if I see it at the library.
Profile Image for Dani Dányi.
432 reviews53 followers
September 29, 2019
Hosszú könyv, bőbeszédű és a maga kronologikus és fókuszált módján mégis abszolút fegyelmezetlen. Stephen Fry nem zavartatja magát: nem az első könyve, van mit mesélnie és élvezi is, ráadásul kapott már némi elismerést mint író. Az eredmény felemás, bár azt hadd tegyem hozzá, hogy vannak hozzá fotóillusztrációk.
Először is a bennfentesség kompendiuma ez az életrajz: név szerint szerepel benne a fél angol színház- film- televízió- és rádióipar, vagy legalábbis a hetvenes-nyolcvanas évek egy igen bő merítése. A nevek gyakran tök ismeretlenek (kivéve pl Douglas Addams, Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson), és mivel nem Nagy-Britannia tévés-rádiós (stb) kultúráján nevelkedtem, mindez számomra maximálisan érdektelen. Persze Fry szórakoztatóan tud írni bármiről, még a saját életéről is, a maga bombasztikusan angol modorában (sőt: mint jól kikupált magyar zsidó leszármazott).
Másrészt egyre szimpatikusabb lett ez a Fry, a maga lelki tipródásával és maró önkritikájával, időnként igen szerethető és megszívlelendő kijelentésekre ragadtatja magát. Minden nyegle és énközpontú majomkodása mellett azért nem egy hülyegyerek, és néha tényleg egész vicces, mégnéhább meg is lepett. Vagyis végül nem bántam meg, hogy kitartóan végigkövettem felnőtt élete felívelő szakaszának ezt a nem is kissé túlírt beszámolóját. De még új szavakat is tanultam belőle.
Profile Image for Gordon Wilson.
69 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2022
A hugely enjoyable book from the very talented Stephen Fry, oh to have a minuscule amount of his talent.
Definitely worth reading if you enjoy any of his shows/books/plays, his talents apparently know no bounds, except singing, which he freely admits.
Profile Image for Alan.
1,104 reviews109 followers
April 24, 2012
People who are professionally funny often have very serious histories, and Stephen Fry is no exception. I hope I don't have to rehearse in too much detail here all of the funny business with which Fry has been associated—Blackadder, The Young Ones and A Bit of Fry and Laurie being three well-known titles that show up in these particular pages.

And more, of course—although most of Fry's better-known work actually comes after the mere slice through the 1980s that this volume covers, during his years at Cambridge and shortly thereafter. Addiction, self-pity and self-deprecation feature much more frequently than hilarious anecdotes within the large-print pages of this book... although his flight of fancy about the coming of women to Cambridge (starting on p.158) did have me laughing aloud.

Fry also turns out to be a dab hand with an epigram—not surprising, perhaps, given that he was once Punster General (or some similar title) for the British monthly The Tatler. Some quips of Fry's own include:
"Education is the sum of what students teach each other in between lectures and seminars." (p.83)
And this:
"Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is." (p.87)

He loves words in general, in fact—the Table of Contents reveals that, its chapter headings all starting with the same letter (a T. of Cs, indeed).

Fry is also, endearingly, a geek—a Mac geek, at that, with a marked preference for the graphical operating system that Apple pioneered. He betrays himself as unusually technically literate for someone in "show-biz," saying for example (on p.300) that "To be the only person you know with a fax machine is a little like being the only person you know with a tennis racket." This observation strikes at the heart of the significance of network devices, and while I've seen the same sort of sentiment expressed elsewhere, I do believe that Fry's simile here is original to him. This avocation of Fry's led to friendship with the late, great Douglas Adams, and a dozen or so pages of The Fry Chronicles are devoted to that bond.

And, of course, there are loads of details about the many lives of Fry—student theatre at Cambridge, breaking into television and radio and motion pictures, first-hand reminiscences about the stellar actress Emma Thompson (a very early compatriot), Rowan Atkinson, Rik Mayall, Robbie Coltrane and other names now as well-known across the pond as in England. You won't find a lot of dirt about Fry's friends, acquaintances and occasional enemies in these pages, though... he reserves his most savage and cutting wit for himself, ironically self-aware of the falseness of modesty while displaying a touching insecurity that definitely does not come across on-screen. From his sexuality (or lack thereof—his 400-word defense of celibacy, published in the aforementioned Tatler, appears in full) to his abuse of mind-altering substances (starting in childhood with a sugar habit), Fry spares no aspect of his existence from at least some scrutiny. This honesty—and it does truly appear to be an honest account Fry's writing here—is refreshing and engaging.

The Fry Chronicles does end abruptly, very much in medias res. What came before is chronicled elsewhere (in Moab Is My Washpot: An Autobiography, to be precise), and what is to come after about 1996 is to be published elsewhere too.
"How differently I might behave, if immortality were an option."
—Tom Stoppard, quoted on p.64
I, too, might behave differently—might read differently, better or worse—if I were immortal. But I'd still want to have read this partial memoir from one of Britain's funniest actors and writers.
Profile Image for Nathan.
Author 5 books115 followers
November 4, 2010
I enjoyed his first book, "Moab is my Washpot", because it's a surprise. He comes across as urbane and to the manor born, but he had a wild discontented youth and the incongruity (combined with his ruthless self-honesty) makes for a great read. This book, which covers his university years and ends at the end of the 80s, is less incongruous. To be blunt, life was great: he found his niche, he made good friends, he worked everywhere on everything, and he became fairly famous. It's not exactly the stuff of conflict and misery, though there are a few delightful anecdotes.

That said, he is merciless when he turns his eye upon himself. The book begins by talking about his addiction to sugar, how his friends didn't have the compulsion that he did, and where it led him. Not many authors begin Vol. 2 of their autobiography by talking about stuffing their face with boiled sweets, stealing to buy candy, and declare the defining emotion of their youth to be a mixture of sugary ecstasy and guilt. And he gets more ruthless from there.

The bit that really rang home was where he talked about his diversity of work. He feels he's betrayed his talents by never writing The Novel or starring in The Play or .... Instead, he does a lot of a lot but never does the magnificent work in a particular field that defines the age. As a generalist myself, I empathize deeply with that. I've often felt that I could have and should have done more and been more. Not because I think I'm as clever as Stephen Fry, but because I don't think I've achieved to the 1/Nth of Fry's talent that I have. This sense of unmet obligation, duty, expectation is as crushing as depression. In fact, we haven't got to Fry's depression years (the book does end with the titillatory promise that there'll be something less cheery happening in his next volume) but I wouldn't be surprised if they were connected somehow.

Should you read the book? Yes, because the anecdotes are glorious and his writing is always a pleasure. I would have loved to have seen more detailed portraits of the people he encountered, and less of the VH1 "I Love the 80s" essays, but I didn't grumble too much about what I got. Did I mention the anecdotes?
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