Stephen Fry in America Paperback – May 28 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
I bought it as secondhand, it's in good condition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Stephen Fry has so many accomplishments it seems silly to cover them all. But let me try.
He is an actor, a comedian, an author, technophile, the voice of audiobooks, a prolific documentist, and a film director, playwright and television presenter.
Fry travels America making stops in familiar and sometimes very odd places. Whether making his own flavor of ice cream at Ben & Jerry's in Vermont or touring `The Body Farm' in Tennessee, Fry displays the wonder of the true traveler mixed with the tiniest amount of cynicism as most tourists do. He really hates American cheese.
Fry introduces us to our brethren and a few of us are rather quirky. We meet celebrities like Morgan Freeman, Ted Turner and Sting. We also meet very hospitable Americans who take Fry into their homes and break bread with him. There is drinking too. The Kentucky bourbon distillery stop was memorable. At least it was for me. I'm not sure if Fry recalls it, but it's in the book so I suppose he does.
Fry drives through each of the states but cherry picks the ones he wishes to stop in and stretch his legs. This means some members of the union receive a mention and nothing more.
The most glaring of these is poor old oh-hi-oh-hi-oh. Ohio received a photo of Fry at the state line and the Neil Young song of the same name about the Kent State shootings. Was that fair? Probably not if you're from Ohio.
But overall this is a wonderful companion to the documentary series. Fry's amusing insights from an outsider's point of view were pleasing. His willingness to try different experiences was admirable. This book shows mostly the good of America. If it were dark and cynical I would never have purchased it. Who wants to see the worst of themselves or their countrymen? I hope Fry returns. Maybe he'll visit Ohio.
Moab Is My Washpot The Liar Fry's English Delight The Hippopotamus
That all of these things are true definitely formed my opinion on this book. I enjoyed it immensely. It was a light, quick, little jaunt through the USA with a friendly and fond citizen of a country much like us, but still very much not us.
For the US reader, Stephen Fry is very, very British. His language, British English, will cause the US reader occasional pause. (What's a fringe? Why would it be on someone's head? Oh, that's Britspeak for bangs! The book is kind enough to have a glossary in the back.) And though he is very British he is not the stereotypical Smarter-and-more-cultured-than-thou Brit. (Though, in addition to Hugh Laurie, if any living Brit has earned the right to that title, he's it.) Likewise, he was looking to write a book that went well past the Loud-rude-idiot American stereotype.
I think he succeeded. Though others have complained about the shallowness of the book, it wasn't meant to be a massive compendium of all things American. It's not supposed to be a scholarly work on the economic systems and demographics of the US. It's a travelogue, and a nice one at that.
So, join me fellow Yanks, and take a look at our country through the eyes of a very well educated and traveled Brit.