Following my recent Stephen Fry obsession, I decided to revisit these two books that I first read about 20 years ago. I remember loving The Liar and finding Paperweight a bit dull. This time around I found the Liar slightly less interesting and Paperweight more interesting than before.
The Liar deals with Adrian Healey, who as the title suggests is a liar. The story is generally funny and very clever and has a big twist at the end. The thing is whilst reading Paperweight or the Fry Chronicles, you notice that in some ways Adrian basically is Stephen Fry – public school, Cambridge, very intelligent, does no work for exams but always gets away with it, etc. In spite of this I would imagine that some of the bits are fictitious and that Stephen Fry was never a member of the secret service or urinated on the matron of the school in the shower, but you never know.
Paperweight is a collection of Fry’s various writings for radio, magazines and even yes, shocker, The Telegraph, despite being a Labour supporter. It also has an early play Latin! that he wrote whilst at Cambridge which seems to have inspired The Liar as well as the radio broadcasts of Professor Trefusis who also appears in the novel. I enjoyed his article extolling the virtues of celibacy which ends with ”Besides I am scared I might not be very good at it (sex)’. awww, I love him. The parts about cricket went over my head. In the introduction it says that this book is not designed to be read in one go, this is definitely true. In fact I ended up giving my original copy to a charity shop which I now regret and had to rush to the Oxfam bookshop in Strutton Ground to buy myself another one before going on holiday.