The Fry Chronicles (2010) is the second instalment of Stephen Fry’s autobiography, picking up where the first, Moab is my Washpot, left off. The work covers Stephen’s transition from school to Cambridge, through to his first forays into drama and early career, and ending abruptly as he turns thirty.
The work drifts along in Fry’s soothing style, with celebrity anecdotes slipped in amongst personal reminiscences. Throughout the book Fry’s narration is apologetically apologetic, imploring the reader not to be too sickened by the author’s good luck to be talented and affluent, yet still harbouring deep seated insecurities. Stephen’s fond descriptions of his student days and personal cross-section of the 1980s will certainly lead a generation of readers to reminisce about their younger days.
The writing is gentle, with not a sharp word for any of Fry’s peers. From time to time there is flurry of verbosity that reminds one of the author’s undoubted intellect and love of language. Equally though, Fry’s story is relayed in a comfortable manner and one never feels bludgeoned by excesses of language.
There are several problems with The Fry Chronicles. Most important perhaps is the way events are related – too often situations are described without Stephen providing his inner commentary, leaving readers with the bare facts but no emotion. Equally, the period described appears to be a happy and therefore rather dull period in Fry’s life, and one cannot help but feel the scope could have been widened a little to include some of the later, more dramatic events of his thirties. Some readers too, given Fry’s patent talent and his justifiable success, will find his constant and exaggerated self-deprecation a little irritating. There is much of Stephen’s woolly charm to be enjoyed, but ultimately the book is overly long and proves unsatisfying as an intimate look at one of Britain’s best loved personalities.
I am a great fan of Stephen Fry and his personal brand of Britishness but I must confess, although I enjoyed reading this instalment of Stephen's biography, I found it a little unfulfilling and am not generally a fan of biographies in multiple volumes.