Stephen Fry is not making this up! Fry started out as a dishonorable schoolboy inclined to lies, pranks, bringing decaying moles to school as a science exhibit, theft, suicide attempts, the illicit pursuit of candy and lads, a genius for mischief, and a neurotic life of crime that sent him straight to Pucklechurch Prison and Cambridge University, where he vaulted to fame along with actress Emma Thompson. He wound up starring as Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde, costarring in A Civil Action, and writing funny, distinguished novels.
This irresistible book, the best-written celebrity memoir of 1999, concentrates on Fry's first two tumultuous decades, but beware! A Fry sentence can lead anywhere, from a ringing defense of beating schoolchildren to a thoughtful comparison of male and female naughty parts. Fry's deepest regrets seem to be the elusiveness of a particular boy's love and the fact that, despite his keen ear for music, Fry's singing voice can make listeners "claw out their inner ears, electrocute their genitals, put on a Jim Reeves record, throw themselves cackling hysterically onto the path of moving buses... anything, anything to take away the pain." A chance mention of Fry's time-travel book about thwarting Hitler, Making History (a finalist for the 1998 Sidewise Award for Best Alternative History), leads to the startling real-life revelation that Fry's own Jewish uncle may have loaned a young, shivering Hitler the coat off his back.
Fry's life is full of school and jailhouse blues overcome by jaunty wit, à la Wilde. The title, from Psalm 108:9, refers to King David's triumph over the Philistines. Fry triumphs similarly, and with more style. --Tim Appelo
Fry, well known for his television roles in the British comedies Jeeves and Wooster and Blackadder, continues to entertain in this fresh and hilarious boyhood memoir. Fry spent his childhood in the English public school system and unapologetically defends the system as an institution. His hindsight provides witty entertainment in this gay coming-of-age story that will delight readers. 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. Michael Spinella
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