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Moab Is My Washpot [Paperback]

Stephen Fry
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Nov. 7 1998 --  
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Book Description

Nov. 7 1998
A number one bestseller in Britain that topped the lists there for months, Stephen Fry's astonishingly frank, funny, wise memoir is the book that his fans everywhere have been waiting for. Since his PBS television debut in the Blackadder series, the American profile of this multitalented writer, actor and comedian has grown steadily, especially in the wake of his title role in the film Wilde, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination, and his supporting role in A Civil Action.
Fry has already given readers a taste of his tumultuous adolescence in his autobiographical first novel, The Liar, and now he reveals the equally tumultuous life that inspired it. Sent to boarding school at the age of seven, he survived beatings, misery, love affairs, carnal violation, expulsion, attempted suicide, criminal conviction and imprisonment to emerge, at the age of eighteen, ready to start over in a world in which he had always felt a stranger. One of very few Cambridge University graduates to have been imprisoned prior to his freshman year, Fry is a brilliantly idiosyncratic character who continues to attract controversy, empathy and real devotion.
This extraordinary and affecting book has "a tragic grandeur that lifts it to classic status," raved the Financial Times in one of the many ecstatic British reviews. Stephen Fry's autobiography, in turns funny, shocking, sad, bruisingly frank and always compulsively readable, could well become a classic gay coming-of-age memoir.

From the Hardcover edition.

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From Amazon

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! A treat for one and all. July 15 2003
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Addictive coming of age story. March 26 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fry chronicles the ups & downs of his early youth through to late adolescence in a vivid and captivating style. He doesn't shy away from sharing his doubts and foibles. An intimate read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read Oct. 7 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really didn't know much about Stephen Fry but I really enjoyed this book and him being so candid about some really awkward topics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Fry is a genius Dec 31 2001
I loved this book. I also loved The Liar, The Hippopotamus and Making History but Moab was the best. I can't count the number of times I thought about a phrase or sentiment "I wish I had written that". This book kept me out late for a week. I finally finished it with a warm smile last night, picked up a John Irving and fell instantly to sleep. If you're feeling alone in the world, read this book for tender company. Even if you weren't raised in England. Even if you are a wife, mother, accountant...
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5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning work and a pleasure to read Oct. 2 2001
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, disarming and unforgettable Sept. 29 2001
By A Customer
Mr. Fry's writing is so skilled and honest that I often forgot I was reading at all. I felt as if he were sitting at the other end of my couch, smoking a cigarette and telling me his life story. I hope he writes about his time at Cambridge and beyond. One can't help but want to know more about him after reading this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite autobiography April 19 2001
British Renaissance man Stephen Fry has written his best book, featuring his most compelling protagonist yet: himself. Fry tells of his school days and later criminal escapades with an erudite and knowing wit that is by turns heartbreaking and sly. His style has never been better, with that bouncy tone kept in check by esoteric references to literature peppered throughout and nice little social commentary to round off the delicious mix. His bravado at sharing so much with his readers is commendable, and the book is simultaneously funny and tragic, a difficult mixture to create.
I was unable to put this book down for a minute while I was immersed in it, and am waiting every day for a sequel (Moab II, anyone?) that details his Cambridge days and early experience as a theater actor, to his days as comic TV star, to his best role in Wilde. I'm sure that anything he writes will be interesting, even if it's just his grocery list.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars not bad, but . . .
Most of this autobiography was quite enjoyable. Stephen Fry is clearly a gifted writer, and based on this book I might try some of his fiction. Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by Paul D. Baxter
1.0 out of 5 stars The picture of Dorian Fry
Everything about this "autobiography" is constructed, fake and banal. This book is basically an endless enumeration of boyhood traumas, mostly related to Fry's... Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2003 by S. N. Kras
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a note, really.
This is the best of Fry's books that I've read; the most honest, in its hesitations at least (its candour is always qualified, as candour must needs be if it is not to appall, by... Read more
Published on March 20 2001 by Dominic Fox
5.0 out of 5 stars Something quite special......
Ever since buying this book I have been unable to put it down. Having now completed it, I find myself using examples from the book while doing English coursework. Mr. Read more
Published on Jan. 29 2001 by Mr. N. J. Francis
5.0 out of 5 stars Ludicrous title, splendid book...
The candour with which Fry describes his childhood can induce tears of both laughter and empathy. To the casual observer, it probably seems as if Fry was smiled upon by the gods. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2001 by Gordon Neill
5.0 out of 5 stars Coffee-through-the-nose Funny!
I picked this book because I adore Stephen Fry, and I was not disappointed. It may be the most candid autobiography I've read, and the funniest. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2000 by Marina Streznewski
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