I can honestly say that I enjoyed the first volume of Fry’s autobiography but found the second less engaging as much of it concerned people and activities with which I was unfamiliar. We have now been blessed with a third volume and I am glad I read it as a library copy.
I cannot claim to be without a warning as the second volume ended with Fry’s first snort of cocaine (and he has had a well-known addiction). The problem lies in the structure of the newest edition which devotes a sizable chunk of space to reviewing the first to volumes; wittily done but unnecessary for this reader.
We are then treated a larger section that is more genuinely autobiographical and relatively up to date. Again very witty and enjoyable in the Fry manner. We are then treated to a somewhat bizarre concluding couple of hundred pages of his diaries extracts which focus on his gradually enveloping addiction and his enjoyment of the highs which undoubtedly helped to mask the cyclic depressions which are the curse of his equally well-known bipolar condition. Some of this can be enjoyed as the exaggeration of an already manic personality that comes cloaked in Wildean witticisms and adventurous behaviours.
The problem is that the whole process begins to tire and reads as an extended non genuine apologia for his behaviour. It is a case of ‘aren’t I having a wonderful time and being so typically Stephen Fry – what a hoot’. Sorry, it just doesn’t wash with we, I felt that this latter aside belies his own claim ..
“It should go without saying that and must be apparent if you read on and find out what damage I believe this noxious yet maddeningly beguiling substance did to me that I wouldn’t recommend cocaine to my worst enemy.”
The typical dishonesty of an addict.