I've always been a fan of Stephen Fry, national treasure that he is. Wordsmith extraordinare, QI host, Comedian, Actor and Writer. I've had this book for a long time and never read it - until now. I really, really wanted to like it, but it's not an easy thing to read. Because he wasn't particularly nice in his first 20 years - which is the span of this first installment of his autobiography.
Arrogant - a showoff, that I could deal with - especially as it covered his own crippling insecurities. His bad relationship with his father - that I can also cope with. But the stealing? The fraud and subsequent arrest? Bit of a s**t really. But looking at things from the point of hindsight you can see his illness, which is only alluded to in one sentence - his manic depression, as I'm sure this came out before he went public with it. The mania he displays when he talks about his first true love "Matteo", waxing lyrical doesn't even cover it.
The suicide attempt was difficult to read, I guess because I could relate to it.
I was recently talking to a colleague who was relating her terrible experiences at boarding school. I innocently mentioned how I was reading this book and that Stephen Fry actually enjoyed boarding school - to which she replied "well, he's not well is he". The implication being that because he suffers from a mental illlness (as these things are now called) of course he enjoyed boarding school. The mentality of some people staggers me.
I did feel that parts of the book were overwritten, with a tendancy to go off on a tangent. Parts of it I will admit I didn't completely understand (should have had a dictionary to hand). His rage at not being able to sing was heart rending - imagine being told by Paul McCartney that you can't sing. Tragic.
Anyway - I will be reading the next installment, will probably leave it a little while though.