Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Moab Is My Washpot

1997, 2004 Arrow Books edition
Stephen Fry
Moab Is My Washpot
Original price £8.99, priced at "3 for £18" but I can't remember if I bought any other books then
Worn paperback

Stephen Fry fan that I was and am, and having run out of books on a trip to Scotland (I had underestimated the amount of time I'd spend in transit), I picked this up at Heathrow to read on the flight back.  I enjoyed it, then and now.  Fry tells the story of his years at public school (in the British sense), with many flashbacks and forwards.  While he of course discusses the teachers and lessons, the book is also about how he became a thief and an out-to-himself homosexual.  The title, Wikipedia explains, comes from psalms in which the nation of Moab became like a basin, and Fry sees this book as "scrubbing at the grime of years."  Wikipedia also gives a somewhat happy ending to the story of Fry's love for a boy he calls here "Osborne," as they met again as adults, and both Mr. and Mrs. "Osborne" have been very nice to him in the years since.

Gay teenaged love and sex are rare to read of in autobiographies, but Fry shares much that's personal here, from his "deflowering" by a prefect to his inability to sing or play sports.  He also gives his opinions on various matters, and even if you don't agree with him (like whether corporal punishment has lasting psychological harm), he's always interesting.

And, yes, I'll be honest, with the first Harry Potter book approaching later in '97, it was helpful to get a nonmagical description of things like "houses," and trains that take the students to school.  Fry would go on to record the Potter audiobooks, and befriend Daniel Radcliffe, so this isn't entirely off topic of course.  

Since this book covers only Stephen's first 20 years, it's good to know that The Fry Chronicles: An Autobiography came out in 2010.  I doubt I'll get it in time for this project, but we'll see.

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