Fry brings his life story into the next decade in this pleasing follow-up to The Fry Chronicles (2012) and other books of memoir.
It’s not that he’s self-absorbed but rather that the author has packed plenty of lives into less than 60 years: intellectual and criminal, genius and addict, beset by countless maladies but always game to wander off onto mountaintop or into jungle in the service of adventure. Viewers of BBC America will now know him as the host of QI, fans of the Hobbit films will know him as a gold-crazed lakeside doge, and fans with longer memories will remember him from A Bit of Fry and Laurie (with House’s Hugh Laurie) and other confections—to all of which Fry adds that he’s a “representative of madness, Twitter, homosexuality, atheism, annoying ubiquity and whatever other kinds of activity you might choose to associate with me.” With so much to tell, it’s a touch disappointing that Fry drifts from coherent narrative to sometimes less-than-scintillating diary entries. There’s also perhaps a bit more about the agonies and ecstasies of cocaine than one might care to read (“As my prosperity rose my ability to acquire higher-quality cocaine increased commensurately….Better purity meant less diarrhea, nasal bleeding and nausea”)—though that was the late 1980s and early ’90s for you, a time of excess and abandon that today’s grim austerity makes all the more nostalgiaworthy. Fry, a gifted writer with a perfect sense of comic timing and anecdote-spinning, name-drops to beat Jim Harrison, but what a list of names he has to drop: from Emma Thompson to Alastair Cooke, P.G. Wodehouse, John Mills, Christopher Hitchens, and the Prince of Wales.
If you’re a fan of Oscar Wilde, whom Fry has portrayed on stage and screen, then by near definition you’ll be a fan of this writer and this book. Lots of fun—and readers who have been following all along will be wanting more, and soon.