Synopsis: Moab is My Washpot is in turns funny, shocking, tender, delicious, sad, lyrical, bruisingly frank and addictively readable. Stephen Fry’s bestselling memoir tells how, sent to a boarding school 200 miles from home at the age of seven, he survived beatings, misery, love, ecstasy, carnal violation, expulsion, imprisonment, criminal conviction, probation and catastrophe to emerge, at eighteen, ready to try and face the world in which he had always felt a stranger. When he was fifteen, he wrote this in a letter to himself, not to be read until he was twenty-five: ‘Well I tell you now that everything I feel now, everything I am now is truer and better than anything I shall ever be. Ever. This is me now, the real me. Every day that I grow away from the me that is writing this now is a betrayal and a defeat’. Whether the real Stephen Fry is the man now living, or the extraordinary adolescent now dead, only you will be able to decide.
When deciding whether to review this book I thought to myself that I should pull myself away and not bother; it was my firm belief that it doesn’t matter what I try and say about Stephen’s wonderful autobiography, I will do it a complete injustice. Nevertheless, I have loved and lived every word of this book over the past few days, so I thought it only fair to attempt to get down in words, why everyone should read this book.
This book is a journey; a journey in which we feel what he felt, live what he lived; a journey filled with despair, remorse, sadness, deceit and love. The book itself is both intriguing and humorous, often at the same time, as we are catapulted through Stephen’s accounts of the tales of his childhood in boarding school, his first homosexual experiences, his pranks and jokes, his adolescent angst and early experiences with depression.
It is extremely well written, as one would expect from Mr Fry, and is delightful, charming, brutally candid, and a pleasure to read. We’re presented with his feelings of regret, despair, and self-loathing, and although I can far from condone his actions as a delinquent youth, neither can he; he acknowledges this most genuinely, and from it you can see how and why he has become what he is today.
Throughout the book Fry quite honestly rambles away, often going off into side-anecdotes, and although this can be irritating for some readers, I found it nothing short of endearing, bringing a certain charm to his style of writing; the way in which he meanders through tales of his childhood, often coming back to his original point several pages on, gives us a sense of how his life has been an emotional roller-coaster from which he has clung on to the very end, to make himself the person which he wants to be.
I myself have no flaws with the book, and yet I feel obliged to point out perhaps why some may. In Stephen’s brutal honesty, he doesn’t hold back. At all. Because of this, at times his language can be.. colourful, shall we say. In this way I don’t think the book should be read by young readers, unless of course the parent deems it acceptable. If you can see past this then you will find his language to be witty and engaging; overall a refreshingly forthright and touching memoir.