Sunday, August 01, 2010

THE HIPPOPOTAMUS by Stephen Fry (1994)

Since I've become a rather sycophantic follower of Mister Fry's on twitter (where you can follow him as well @stephenfry), I've been reminded of his books and found this one at my local Toronto Public Library branch in The Beach before heading up to the cottage for the long weekend.

Protagonist Ted Wallace is a middle-aged British poet who has just been sacked from his day job as a theatre critic because he dared to write the truth. Ted also speaks the truth with a proper dose of snark, wit and self-deprecation. Consider, "What kind of self-conscious and insufferably twee bellelettriste ponce keeps notebooks," or "The gentle, spiteful art of croquet, however, is more suited to my low centre of gravity and high sense of malice," for example.

After a happenstance meeting with his god-daughter Jane who reveals that her leukemia is in remission, Ted follows Jane's insistance that he spend more time with his other god-child, her adolescent cousin David, at the family estate. There Ted snoops about, playing at embedded investigative reporter to uncover the truth behind the mysterious healing that seems to take place.

There were moments throughout this novel that I laughed out loud and found myself wishing that Ted Wallace were a friend I could ring for real advice, since he so unabashedly deals it out to anyone who will listen. I haven't read Fry's memoir MOAB IS MY WASHPOT, yet, but I am keen to do just that.

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