Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 83 (4/27) -- Stephen Fry in America by Stephen Fry

If Stephen Fry weren't clearly such a pleasant, personable chap, it would be difficult to avoid being criminally jealous of him. He's smart, witty, well-connected (both in the acting world and consumer electronics), a fine writer and an accomplished actor.

Worst of all, he gets to do projects like this: about three years ago, Fry set off in a black London cab to see the USA, spending a little time in each of the fifty states and filming a TV documentary about it along the way. (So he got paid to wander around the country, seeing tourist sights and having interesting adventures.) The TV show itself hasn't made its way to the US yet -- perhaps because TV programmers don't think we care, as a country, what a Brit like Fry thinks of us -- but this, the companion book, was published in time for last Christmas, so that it would be available to be given as presents to Anglophillic America-lovers (like me).

Stephen Fry in America doesn't exhaust its subject -- each state, even the smallest and least-populated, are worth at least two coffee-table books of this size, and probably wouldn't be covered in depth even at that level -- but it does present a succession of reasonably iconic portraits of American life, from Maine lobstermen to Hawaiian luaus, all in Fry's bemused and appreciative voice. Fry admits to liking, even loving America, despite what he sees as its flaws -- and that's how all honest people really feel about the countries they care about, whether their own or foreign.

Fry is pleasant company as always, and the joy of Stephen Fry in America was only slightly dampened by the wish that I was the one wandering across the country and poking into everything. If you're better at living vicariously than I am, that joy may well be unalloyed.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index
Listening to: Josh Ritter - Real Long Distance (live)
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

KatG said...

I got to see part of the documentary series. It was excellent. Fry was in full Fry mode and went, as you can tell from the book, to many odd places and talked with all sorts of Americans with whom his British affability served him well.

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