Synopses & 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 Golden Globe nomination, and his supporting role in A Civil Action
Fry has already given readers a taste of his tumultuous adolescence in his autobiographical first novel, The Liar, and now he reveals the equally tumultuous life that inspired it. Sent to boarding school at the age of seven, he survived beatings, misery, love affairs, carnal violation, expulsion, attempted suicide, criminal conviction and imprisonment to emerge, at the age of eighteen, ready to start over in a world in which he had always felt a stranger. One of very few Cambridge University graduates to have been imprisoned prior to his freshman year, Fry is a brilliantly idiosyncratic character who continues to attract controversy, empathy and real devotion.
"Fry is a master of provocative tangents and he remembers with a cheeky wit.... Delicious." The New Yorker
"This book bubbles, it boils and bubbles with wonderful language, quick wit, and loopy digression that always leads you home again. You can always hear Fry's wonderfully lyrical (English) voice in this book, and that voice is delightfully irreverent, cozy, smart, funny and insightfully honest." Spalding Gray
"An engagingly rueful memoir....Enormously entertaining." The New York Times Book Review
"[E]normously entertaining....[T]he dominant voice...is comic, by turns insolent and witty, ribald and pugnacious....His reminiscences are animated not by anger or indignation, but by a genial sense of regret, his portraits informed by an elegaic if irreverent nostalgia....[E]ngagingly rueful." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Fans of British comedies especially will appreciate the style and wit with which Fry tells his tale. In touching upon his rocky childhood, Fry provides a picture of himself as extraordinarily clever, to the point of being boisterously wicked. He used comedy to cover up what could be considered repressed brilliance, in addition to covering up his homosexuality. An affair with a fellow school chum only furthered his inhibitions, as he wove a downward destructive spiral of deceit and thievery that ended in near-suicide and eventual imprisonment. And this all occurred before his first year at Cambridge. With this daring and feisty story, Fry will delight fans and nonfans." Booklist
"The engaging Mr. Fry admits to lies, thievery, homosexuality, excessive cleverness, and other peccadilloes in this boarding-school adventure that goes far beyond Tom Brown or Billy Bunter naughtiness. He revels in his proclaimed peculiarities, and 'grieves' and 'blushes' to confess to various youthful solecisms....Trouble is, on this side of the Atlantic the text is frequently as unintelligible as cricket. Only a devoted Anglophile could tell what 'a First or a 2:1 as well as an inevitable triple haul of sporting Blues' at Cambridge might mean. And why his washpot, in which Fry 'wallows,' is the same as the ancient land of Moab is not clear; the title remains a mystery....With all the wit and Pythonesque antics, his book will entertain the Masterpiece Theatre crowd and others as well." Kirkus Reviews
"Fry writes affectingly....[He is] one of England's wittiest performers." Entertainment Weekly
"[A] poignant, disarmingly witty, and felicitous account of an extravagantly misspent youth....a critical but thoughtful remembrance of childhood, a confession...and, there is not the slightest trace of self-pity or blame-tossing....The actor's generosity of spirit infuses every chapter." Rod Dreher, National Review
"[An] engaging, discursive book....Reading Moab Is My Washpot is like joining the author for a long lunch and several bottles of wine. He may start with an anecdote about public school, but soon he wanders off into his thoughts on corporal punishment and The Exorcist." Michael J. Giltz, The Advocate
In this gay coming-of-age memoir, the author of "The Liar" tells the hilarious, shocking, and poignant story of his first 20 years: the horrors of English public school, the chaos of first love and puberty, even thievery and prison. "The New Yorker" calls Fry a "master of provocative tangents."
Renaissance man extraordinaire Stephen Fry has been entertaining us through books, film, theater, and television for years. By turns hilarious, shocking, and poignant, Moab Is My Washpot tells the real story of his first twenty years: the horrors of English public school, the chaos of first love and puberty, even thievery and prison. Compulsively readable and as brilliant and controversial as its author, it may well become a classic gay coming-of-age memoir.
About the Author
Stephen Fry no longer steals, cheats, or lies nearly as much as he used to. He still talks too much, and he still has an annoying flop of schoolboy hair that seventeen of London's most expensive and absurd hairdressers have been able to do nothing about.
Fry has written three novels The Liar, The Hippopotamus, and Making History and played Peter in the film Peter's Friends, Wilde in the film Wilde, Jeeves in the television series Jeeves & Wooster, and (a closely guarded show-business secret, this) Laurie in the TV series A Bit of Fry and Laurie.
Much of his past life is contained between the covers of this book; much of his present life is spent trying to be good. He rarely succeeds, yet still he tries. He divides his time between New York and his English homes in London and Norfolk.