It would seem that fame, fortune and the adoration and seven-and-a-half million twitter followers is not enough for Stephen Fry. No. The well-loved, respected and overly indulged national treasure, etcetera, etcetera, wants his life (or at least the third volume of his autobiography More Fool Me) to become “a global story.”
Last week Penguin and the unstoppable ego that is Stephen Fry, launched YourFry a “global digital storytelling project” tied-in to the latest volume of the luvvie’s autobiography More Fool Me. The project will make available text, audio and photographic samples for developers and digital artists to create “whatever they like from apps and data visualisations through to animation and 3D models.”
According to Nathan Hull, digital product development director at Penguin Books, YourFry is:
....an interactive and collaborative project to reinterpret the words and life story of Stephen’s memoir, turning Stephen’s personal story into a global one.
We want to experiment, collaborate, open a conversation, learn and share—and we’re excited to see the creativity and energy of storytellers all over the world.
This is an interesting idea, but one that would (surely) be best served by some great work of fiction (fairy stories, Harry Potter, War and Peace) rather than Stephen Fry’s superfluous third volume of memoirs (how many volumes of autobiography does the privileged 57-year-old need?). The whole thing looks more like some desperate PR ploy to boost interest in this dud of a book.
More Fool Me is piss poor and reads like bits left out of the second volume The Fry Chronicles, where it would happily sit in an edited form under the chapter heading “C is for Cocaine.”
I spent the weekend reading Fry’s latest wankathon, and want to save you the bother of buying it, reading it or being scarred for life by its mediocrity. Save your money. Spend it on drugs, beer, a night out, or a suitably charming present for someone you love. For those still not heeding my words, here is a breakdown (almost) without spoilers.
Fry begins More Fool Me by recounting a recurring dream where he is arrested, tried and sent to prison. Whether it’s true or not, we only have Fry’s word. But its affect is to make the reader sympathetic to the author’s plight before he even begins his tale. Poor Stephen we think, as we then spend the next 50 pages reading a rehash of volumes one and two: Moab is My Washpot (which covered Fry’s life up to the age of twenty) and The Fry Chronicles (his life up to the age of 30).
The following 150 pages are mainly about his hedonistic years on cocaine (hardly revealing), hanging around the Groucho Club (who knew the place was so dull?) and meeting fellow celebrities (no, there is no juicy gossip as Fry loves everyone and anyway he claims he saving all the juicy stuff until after he’s dead). To be frank, there is nothing here of any merit, real interest or literary/cultural importance. The most talked about piece is Fry’s list of the places where he has snorted cocaine: Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the BBC, a long list of gentlemen’s clubs, and a selection of newspapers and periodicals, etcetera, etcetera. I seriously doubt that Fry was the first to hoover up Colombian marching powder in any of these various venues, and he is unlikely to be the last.
The final section of the book is a sub-Adrian Mole diary from 1993, which would not look out of place in the comedy pages of National Lampoon or Private Eye.
Fry was known as “Sly Fry” at school, which is about right, for he is smart (cunning?) enough to ensure his readers are sympathetic, by cleverly disarming any criticism throughout the book with his unhappiness, his self-doubt, self-loathing and the fact that he is encumbered with the omniscient curse of knowing exactly how his readers think:
..I do hear what I consider to be the voice of the reader, your voice. Yes, yours. Hundreds of thousands of you, wincing, pursing your lips, laughing here, hissing there, nodding, tutting, comparing your life to mine with as much objective honesty as you can. The chances are that you have not been lucky with the material things in life as I have, but the chances are (and you may find this hard to believe, but I beg that you would) that you are happier, more adjusted and simply a better person.
(Oh, do fuck off Stephen.)
This is Fry being “sleekit” here, a great Scottish word meaning “sly, secretive, up to no good,” telling his readers that his life may have been charmed, blessed, beautifully plumped like goose-feather cushions on the Chesterfield of life, but in actual fact, he is to be pitied for he is not happy, and all this success, this excess has not made our little Stephen happy.
Well, tough. Deal with it. You have never suffered the privations, the illness, the violence, the utter despair most people face every day of their lives. You are damnably privileged, and should try and think about how you can help others rather than seek approval from their applause.
Maybe it’s time for some kind of intervention? What if all the causes of Mr. Fry’s addiction to fame and public adulation are confiscated, and he is made sit in the corner where he can have a good long hard think about other people for a change.
The book is rather like the homework written on a bus by a clever student traveling to school, “Will this do?” Sadly, no. As Fry himself possibly suspects as he tells his readers to try Moab is My Washpot or The Fry Chronicles. He’s right—both of these books are far better as he reflects on his past life, examining and understanding his younger self. There is little of that here, this is more of the “unexamined life.” If you want to read Stephen Fry at his best then do please read Moab is My Washpot or The Fry Chronicles or his excellent book on poetry The Ode Less Travelled or try his fiction The Liar, or (possibly his best novel) The Hippotamus , as this is where you will find the riches of his talent.
And if you are still not convinced, well, more fool you, though I’m sure you’ll be interested in the global mass worshiping of Saint Stephen on 1st October… details below.