THE LIAR by Stephen Fry


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 Comic actor/screenwriter Fry (the TV series A Bit of Fry and Laurie, etc.) weighs in with a fulsomely naughty first novel about a lascivious, blandly prevaricating English schoolboy cast adrift at public school, on the streets, at Cambridge, and in MI5. Adrian Healey--his chances in life already dented by his months as a London prostitute and his cocaine arrest--arrives at Cambridge with a reputation for insatiable sexual appetites (``Love was Adrian's guilty secret, sex his public pride'') and a strong aversion to telling the truth. Challenged by Donald Trefusis, the Senior Tutor who catches him in plagiarism, to produce some kind--any kind--of original work, Adrian takes a breather from his romantic pursuit of Hugo Cartwright (whom he's already had briefly in a lav before he realized that this was True Love) to penetrate the college's extensive collection of Victorian pornography and ``discover'' three chapters of Peter Flowerbuck, Dickens's lost pornographic masterpiece--which only Donald, of all the luminaries in the college, recognizes as Adrian's own work. Meantime, italicized interchapters have already suggested that (a) largely as a result of such high jinks, Donald will end up inveigling Adrian into an elaborate and dangerous spy plot to take delivery of Mendax, a device that prevents the user from lying, and (b) espionage Ö l`anglaise is just as foppish and foolish as the groves of academe, which so often furnish its personae. The treatment throughout is manic, in-your-face, and taboo-busting in the tradition of Orton, Monty Python, and numberless graffiti artists. Chockablock with witless pranks, single-entendres, lesser dolts like Pigs Trotter and Dr. Humphrey Biffen, and allusions to Shakespeare, Saki, Wilde, and George Herbert. Too British in its calculated outrageousness to repeat its bestselling performance on this side of the Atlantic, but still dizzyingly, peerlessly sophomoric. (Film rights to Paramount)

Pub Date: May 24th, 1993
ISBN: 0-939149-82-6
Page count: 277pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1993


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