Oh yes, it’s Friday at long last folks. Well, seeing as I’m currently between work and study that makes no difference to me (aside from the obvious expense of simply existing in this city), but for you my dedicated audience I’m sure Friday is what you live for come 5.
I’ve literally just finished reading Stephen Fry’s The Fry Chronicles on time to make the above pun in the title. That’s no mean feat let me tell you.
To put it mildly I didn’t enjoy the book very much. Now, I must retroactively preface, or maybe postface is a better (if nonsensical) word, this by saying Fry is not among the TV personalities I am fond of. I do find him to be kind of a pompous git, however this book came up for bookclub and I can’t leave a book unfinished. And Fry did live up to this accolade in the book. Between the achingly long passages about how he did little work and put in less effort in his studies and still succeeded and his bemoaning just how hard it was to be him, the book became a monotonous cry of “Poor little rich [boy] what does [he] know about misery” a la Rose in Cameron’s Titanic.
Fry tells us a lot of his stories by starting lists that seem to go on for lines, paragraphs, pages, and chapters. Coming from the pedantic teacher in me, I want to tear into him for this as it’s not only hard to absorb but also break up the flow of anything except the spoken word. On the other hand, if you were a fan of Fry and could read in his voice these lists of adjectives, adverbs, people, and places would seem quite true to life and entertaining, so Moz’s red pen will sit straining in his hand for now. These lists do precede many tales of how Fry and co get up to all kinds of antics that pish tosh we know sound arsey, but here they are anyway.
Often these anecdotes served no purpose other than for Fry to first tell us how he rose to fame and squandered money then exclaim that he’s ordinary and down to earth by some phrase such as “the episode with the car may be regarded… as a typical episode of hypomanic grandiosity…”. As though this absolves him of having done said action. It doesn’t Stephen, and the false modesty shows through.
That said, Fry does have some incredible anecdotes to tell, from meeting basically everyone who’s ever told a joke in Britain to flashy Broadway producers which are told with genuine wit and truly shrewd observations. So I cannot say there is nothing I enjoyed in the novel. In fact, I would go so far as to say one of my favorite descriptions of New York City was in the penultimate chapter of the book when Fry is in America to adapt his rewrite of Me and My Girl for Broadway.
Overall if you, like me, don’t like Fry, then do not read this book. It will induce very little but eye-rolling. If you belong to another group of people, who like his self-proclaimed “smug features” and those of his writing style then please pick it up.
From me it’s a 2 star review.