Title: Moab is my Washpot
Author: Stephen Fry
Page Count/Review Word Count: 436
Moab is my Washpot is Stephen Fry’s first autobiography, a genuinely touching book which covers his early childhood and adolescence with unflinching honesty and a deep sense of humour. Fry has written autobiographical work before, but this is his first real stab at a fully-fledged work – let me tell you, it was worth waiting for.
It’s no secret that Fry is prone to moments of weakness – after all, he disappeared in 1995 after walking out of the play he was a part of, contemplating suicide and eventually surfacing in Belgium. Even as a youngster, Fry had issues with depression, and he had a habit of lying, cheating and stealing – in Moab, he even covers the period in his youth in which he stole a credit card and went on a criminal spending spree, eventually ending up in jail. Who would have thought it, of the charming presenter and much-loved British national treasure?
In fact, Washpot will tell you a lot more about Stephen Fry than you ever wanted to know, but that’s a good thing – more happened to Fry in the first twenty years of his life than to most people by the age of their retirement, and it’s fascinating to read all about it in his own words. Fry writes with his usual wit and wisdom, and it’s a pleasure to sink in to his words and to be left feeling like you’re really there at Stouts Hill Prep School.
And there’s no need to worry that you might not be able to relate to Fry, either – I grew up in a working class household in the midlands, and even though the young Fry’s surroundings and his struggles with his sexuality were alien to me, I could understand his thought processes and I felt like I was reading the words of an old friend. I think that says more about Fry’s abilities as a writer than it does about his personality.
Moab is my Washpot also sets you up perfectly for Fry’s later autobiography, The Fry Chronicles, which covers the later periods of his early life including his higher education and his meetings with some of the stars that he shaped a career with, including comedy partner Hugh Laurie. Read this first and then move on to Chronicles – you’ll love it, I promise you. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, Fry is a better non-fiction writer than a novelist, even if he’s damn good at both of them!