More Fool Me by Stephen Fry
(The Overlook Press, 2014, 400 pages)
In his previous memoir, The Fry Chronicles, Stephen Fry capped off his account of his days at Cambridge University and his early television career by confessing that the next stage of his career was largely fueled by cocaine. In More Fool Me, he details that frenetic period (the late eighties through the early nineties) as a comedian, actor, writer, and public personality, including his dependency on “Bolivian marching powder” as he calls it.
Fry’s creative and eloquent use of language is, as always, hilarious. In this book, as well as his previous two memoirs, Fry’s humor is put in the service of some serious self-examination. I loved this description toward the end of the book about the purpose of memoir:
“Memoir, the act of literary remembering, for me seems to take the form of a kind of dialogue with my former self. What are you doing? Why are you behaving like that? Who do you think you are fooling? Stop it! Don’t do that that! Look out!” (376).
Though the book is highly entertaining, witty, and very funny, it doesn’t quite live up to the standard of the earlier installments. The final 150 pages or so are made up of Fry’s diary entries from August through November of 1993. There is certainly some interesting stuff there, including stories about friends and celebrities, and the entries are very cleverly annotated for clarification and correction. That said, the details of dinners attended, golf games, daily writing regimes, and other mundane activities can get a bit tedious. The diary does give an often interesting snapshot of the phase of life that Fry discusses earlier in the book, but a short selection of passages would have been much more engaging.
I was also a bit disappointed that Fry didn’t include more stories and reflections about the sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie, which he was writing and filming at the time. The diary includes some discussion of the show and his close relationship with the (also hilarious) actor Hugh Laurie, but it focuses mostly on writing schedules and production issues. On the whole, however, a very enjoyable book from a smart, funny, and compassionate man.