Book Review: – More fool me


‘More fool me’ is the 3rd volume of autobiography by Stephen Fry. The first two cover his childhood, teenage and university years, so this picks up the story in the late 1980s and early 90s as his career really takes off and stopping short of his breakdown in 1995. The first 60 odd pages go over ground which he wrote about in the first two volumes, there are then some chapters wandering around the themes of his cocaine habit and the show biz life and it finishes with diary entries from the time he has writing ‘The Hippopotamus’. As Viv Groskop wrote “The diaries paint a picture of an extremely busy but often lonely Ab Fab kind of life: voiceovers all day, drinks all afternoon, an awards ceremony early evening, cocaine and poker at The Groucho Club all night.”

Most of us found the book hardwork and unrewarding – in fact not everyone had been inclined to finish it. Given that Fry has had a varied career in the spotlight and he doesn’t shrink from revealing the extent of his cocaine use , the book revealed very little of the inner man and his struggles – maybe that will come in later volumes where he has the opportunity to talk about overcoming his drug habit and the impact of bipolar disorder (which he has been so open about in other places). There are the neat turns of phrase and comic touches – most of it reads as though Fry is talking to one, and maybe it would flow better in an audio format. There are lots of references to the crowd he mixed with – and at times a frustrating habit of reporting that someone else told a very amusing tale with no real detail for the reader to appreciate it!

What actually redeemed the book a little for me was the final few pages where he reflects on the diaries:

“I have to be honest and say that reading the preceding pages gave me quite a turn …. I had no idea I was quite so busy, quite so debauched, quite so energetic, quite so irremediably foolish” and then a little later “wondering how as a young man I could ever have got myself into such a state. Where might my life have led me if I had not all but thrown away the prime of it as I partied like one determined to test its limits?”

A last comment by Sameer Rahim in the Telegraph:

No one can see his flaws better than Fry himself. His mental frailty shows a deeply conflicted personality, still unhappy in his own skin. No amount of audience pleasing or shocking will change that. As he notes in the most endearing line in the book: “Oh dear I am an arse”.