Sunday, July 24, 2011

7. The Fry Chronicles: an autobiography - Stephen Fry (2010)

Now there I sat, three years later, fiddling with my prize pipe and contemplating a betrayal of the smoking cause. 'Betrayal' and 'cause' are perhaps hysterical and self-important words to use, but smoking to me was a cause; it had always symbolized in my mind something enormous.
The word 'chronicles' in the title is very apt as it does indeed chronicle Stephen Fry's life from slightly lost teenager, through his university years and into his first bout of success (although with a surprising lack of "celebrity" despite this). I found this book to be an incredibly honest, albeit slightly plodding journey through a very interesting time in Stephen Fry's life, interesting because it always is to see where someone started off before they become that big name in shining lights. The narrative is doused quite liberally with self-effacement and self-deprecation, which became a bit tiresome around the half-way mark, although I couldn't help but feel at the end that it proved even more how we're all just human, and that no matter how successful one becomes it does not mean you somehow inherit self-assurance, confidence or even happiness. I see that sometimes "normal" people can become bitter if a celebrity doesn't seem content or is seen to be excessively humble and self-deprecating, like they're just being smug in an indirect way about their success. Hugely dissimilar to such a person, I liked the way that Stephen Fry appreciated, and was even surprised by every opportunity, how he always tried to do his best whether personally or professionally, as well as how he accepted his mistakes and took his fair share of the blame. Whether seemingly excessive or not, Stephen Fry is utterly personable in his writing, and although this book is a very personal account of a portion of his life, he remains relatable, funny and endearing throughout. If you're a fan, I highly recommend this autobiography, although I might not bother if you're not already interested in the man. But isn't that always the way with autobiographies. I look forward to the next installment. 
 3 stars

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