Steven Fry


The Liar


This is a summary of a much larger review.


Consistently tawdry - in the way that having builders next door is consistently irritating. Where someone else might have a minor linking scene ‘while dining’ or something, Fry will inevitably have it ‘while receiving a blow job’ or the like. For Fry the sex is just scenery, and not nearly as important as, for example, the undeniably clever wordplay about sex.


If you can habituate yourself to the constant seedy action, the language itself is drenched with wit. The sentences are a pleasure in themselves. Fry sets himself up for an enormous fall when he describes his central character as a prodigy of wit, yet he comes through above and beyond. The dialogue is constantly sharp, funny, and slap-in-the-face incisive.


Characters? You’ll only get insight into the one character that Fry appears to be interested in: himself.


Plot? Well, it is interesting that he breaks up the chronology, though not essential. There is also an odd departure: suddenly about three quarters of the way through we’re in a spy novel (hinted at in the single teasing aberrant prologue scene). It hasn’t been woven in to the rest of the story, it’s just stuck on the end, and actually quite optional.


September 2002