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Moab Is My Washpot: An Autobiography Hardcover – May 25, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (May 25, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375502645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375502644
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

From Booklist

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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Customer Reviews

His story is funny, colourful, and painfully honest.
Lucifixer
I read Stephen Fry's autobiographical works The Fry Chronicles and Moab Is My Washpot in reverse order.
R. J. Marsella
Fry's rapier wit is what often makes this book such a treat.
Eddy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 70 people found the following review helpful By F. G. Hamer on October 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
In `Moab is my Washpot' (the best-written celebrity memoir of 1999), Stephen Fry, the intellectually intimidating archetypal Brit tells his life story to the age of 20. Often outrageous, always full of humour, Fry is the darling of the media, appearing regularly in TV series and chat shows. He is highly regarded as raconteur, newspaper columnist, actor and writer. But above all else, Stephen Fry is eccentric in the Oscar Wilde sense of the word.
In this, his autobiography, he is frank about his early years, which included perpetual lying, expulsion from one of Britain's better known public schools, his discovery that he was homosexual, his theft and misuse of a friend's credit card, his imprisonment and, eventually, the discovery of his own personal road to Damascus.
The multi-talented Fry writes as he speaks. He is the ultimate wordsmith, taking his cue from Wilde by using the `correct' word - the one that paints the most vivid mind picture, rather than a pompous, flamboyant word that sends everybody scurrying for the dictionary. `Moab is my Washpot' is simultaneously daring, impertinent, open, moving, sacrilegious and funny.
You'll read `Moab is my Washpot' not just for the factual story of a young man whose confused sexuality takes him to the edge of self-destruction, but for the joy and beauty of the written word.
A stunning work and a pleasure to read.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By blnkfrnk on July 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I realize that everyone has different reading habits, but it might be revealing to know that I more or less read this straight through, starting the minute I got it home, breaking for maybe six hours of sleep, then resuming progress in every free moment at work until I finished. It was impossible to put down, and seems to exert some sort of gravitational pull upon my hand every time I pass it on the shelf.
If you're interested in Stephen Fry, it follows that you should read this. If you like autobiographies in general, this is one of the best you'll come across. There are parts that could easily stand alone as essays, and parts that read like fiction. The writing is brilliant as usual-- clear, precise, thoughtful, poignant, and funny.
One thing I feel is important to mention-- most folks do not remember what it felt like to be young. It's clear to me that most writers create teenage or youthful characters from observations of those around them, not from their own experiences, and it shows. After a while, it becomes painful to read yet another cardboard teen. But Stephen Fry does remember, what it was like, in detail, and it's very refreshing and gratifying. I read this and see myself, or someone I can relate to and identify with. Others might read this and see someone they know, and still others might be astounded by the depth of feeling and sincerity expressed.
I would recommend this to most anyone--I love it and, while there are people who won't, I think they're in the minority. If you're not convinced, get the cheapest copy you can find, and give it a shot anyway. This book is more than worth your while.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lana on June 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Moab Is My Washpot by British comedian Stephen Fry is at turns sly, funny and laced with a poignancy which reveals a hauntingly human side to a man whose writing talent and comedic prowess makes him intellectually intimidating.
In the book we learn of how Fry was turned out of prep and public school, his jaunt around England as a forger of credit card signatures, his time in prison and the triumphant reclaiming of his life through his entrance to Cambridge.
What is important about this book is that it is universal. Fry's story of teenage angst and lonliness is one many teens go through today. It is good to see that his story has a successful ending. It serves as notice to lost youths that they can turn their lives around and be a success.
There is one flaw with the book. It ended to soon. Fry only chronciles the first 20 years and doesn't even hit on such momentous events such as meeting fellow partner in comedic crime, Hugh Laurie at Cambridge. I can only hope Mr. Fry's fingers are busily typing out a sequel covering the next twenty years.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lana on June 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Moab Is My Washpot by British comedian Stephen Fry is at turns sly, funny and laced with a poignancy which reveals a hauntingly human side to a man whose writing talent and comedic prowess makes him intellectually intimidating.
In the book we learn of how Fry was turned out of prep and public school, his jaunt around England as a forger of credit card signatures, his time in prison and the triumphant reclaiming of his life through his entrance to Cambridge.
What is important about this book is that it is universal. Fry's story of teenage angst and lonliness is one many teens go through today. It is good to see that his story has a successful ending. It serves as notice to lost youths that they can turn their lives around and be a success.
There is one flaw with the book. It ended to soon. Fry only chronciles the first 20 years and doesn't even hit on such momentous events such as meeting fellow partner in comedic crime, Hugh Laurie at Cambridge. I can only hope Mr. Fry's fingers are busily typing out a sequel covering the next twenty years.
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