Title: The Liar
Author: Stephen Fry
Page Count/Review Word Count: 277
The Liar is Stephen Fry’s first novel, and while it’s not as good as some of his later work, it is a good start and it shows some of his later promise. In many ways, it’s autobiographical too – it tells the story of a lying public schoolboy, and it’s notable for containing his typical wit and wisdom and for marking Fry’s first flutter in to the world of being a published author.
Unfortunately, it’s just not a strong novel – it’s typical of a debutante, and even Fry’s evocations of homosexuality feel a little stilted, almost as though they were included just for the sake of it. There’s also the protagonist’s irritating habit of lying all of the time, a habit which actually affects the narrative – some of the chapters are later revealed to be fictional, created by the narrator to throw the reader off course. I mean, it’s a fictional novel to begin with – Fry is dealing with meta-fiction, which is a huge risk because it doesn’t always work.
Ultimately, though, the characterisation is pretty good and Fry’s depiction of people and places is good but not great, a mere shadow of what was to come in his later work. As a whole, his work isn’t for everyone – The Liar isn’t his best, so start with Making History or Moab is my Washpot. If you’ve read the rest of his work and you enjoyed it, then move on to The Liar while you wait for him to release his next one. Sorry, Stephen – it’s just not that good!