The Hippopotamus

by Stephen Fry | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0099189615 Global Overview for this book
Registered by futurecat of Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on 11/15/2006
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Wednesday, November 15, 2006
From the Regent booksale. If my calculations are correct, then this is the


book that I've registered!

I think Stephen Fry is a suitably wonderful author to be such a significant registration :-)

^ ^

Journal Entry 2 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Saturday, November 25, 2006
Ted, a drunken critic and sometime-poet, is hired by his goddaughter (who may or may not be dying of leukemia) to investigate mysterious goings-on at a country home. But this isn't your standard detective story - for a start, she hasn't told him what he's supposed to be looking for, and some of the strange goings-on are very strange indeed.

Stephen Fry has a distinct narrative voice, which comes through strongly in this book - reading it you can't help but hear his voice in your head, terribly upper class, yet at the same time sneering at upper-class pretentions.

It might not be to everyone's taste, but I enjoyed it.

^ ^

Journal Entry 3 by Sherlockfan from Upper Hutt, Wellington Province New Zealand on Sunday, November 26, 2006
Sadly FutureCat your 2000th registration was definitely not to my t...e. Actually considering the contents even t...e is an inappropriate word to use.
Thanks for letting me have it though on my way to spend time in a Doctor's waiting room. By page 17 I'd had enough.

Let me know what you'd like me to do with it - I can put it with the convention books if you like but as it is a special book for you maybe you'd prefer it to be out and about.

I thought about a themed release but taking "The Hippopotamus" to the zoo might let it fall into unsuitable hands.

Directions please.

Journal Entry 4 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Wednesday, April 11, 2007
On its way to Charleston.

^ ^

Journal Entry 5 by CharlestonBCers from Charleston, South Carolina USA on Tuesday, April 24, 2007
This was sent for the Charleston convention. Thank you!

Journal Entry 6 by wingbookczukwing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA on Saturday, May 12, 2007
This one came home with me from our meetup. I am a big fan of Stephen Fry, the actor, but he has not won me over with his writing, to date. I'll give this a go and give it to javaczuk, too. I'm just pleased as punch to be on a book history with some of my favorite Kiwis!

Journal Entry 7 by wingbookczukwing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA on Saturday, June 23, 2007
You know, it's odd. I adore Stephen Fry as an actor, but I've yet to be charmed by one of his books. I read the blurb about the book and think it sounds like a great story. I even enjoy, as FutureCat noted, hearing his distinctive actual voice becoming the voice of the book for me. But what I am not so keen on is his sheer delight with stuffing as many words as possible into his prose. It's not that half of them are either x-rated or describing various acts of sex and debauchery that bothers me (though I must admit, that in one of his other books, I learned of at least one action that can happen between two people in the heat of lust which I didn't even know was possible-- nor am I convinced my world is a better place for knowing it exists!) It's just that I feel he goes out of his way to find the most exotic word he can to make a simple statement, and for me, that bogs the writing down, makes it leaden, cumbersome and like mud to wade through. I finally gave up about a third of the way into this book because I was still shuffling around the edges of the actual tale, and his eclectic word choice was making my head hurt.

Will offer to javaczuk, and if he is not inclined to read it,I think i know who to send it to.

ETA (July 2, 2007): I think it was during that last sex scene GoryDetails mentions in a later journal entry that I put the book down to head out to Guyczuk's graduation and then a week or so passed in which I never had the gumption or time to pick it back up. Then the momentum was overtaken by inertia, then by guilt and here I am.

Journal Entry 8 by wingbookczukwing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA on Sunday, June 24, 2007
Neither javaczuk, xanzi42 or bumma had time or inclination for this book right now. I am sending it on to the queen of quirk, herself, in honor of having the 3,999,999th book that was registered on BookCrossing.

Journal Entry 9 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, June 27, 2007
"Queen of quirk"? Does this mean I have to change my screen name? {grin}

This very-quirky-looking-indeed book arrived safely in today's mail, and while the comments so far are mixed (and tending towards the luke-warm!) I find that's making me very curious... Stay tuned!

Journal Entry 10 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I'm now waiting here with bated breath to see if there's anyone out there who'll agree with me that this is a good book - I'm starting to think my taste must be really weird... but I've got high hopes for Gory sharing my weirdness taste :-)

Can I just say, PLEASE read the book right to the end. It really is a book that needs to be read right through to be appreciated - for a start, it doesn't start really making sense until the last couple of chapters (this is not to criticise Sherlockfan or Bookczuk for putting it down early - if a book's not for you, it's not for you, and I totally agree life's too short to waste on bad books - but I think you might have enjoyed it more if you'd persevered to the end).

Oh, and Bookczuk - I agree the language is overly flowery and ornate, but I took that as a deliberate device - Ted is a poet, after all, and a bit pretentious, and IIRC most of the book is written in his voice?

Sorry, bad form to try and defend a book that other journallers haven't appreciated. I'll shut up now :-)

Hope you enjoy it, Gory!

^ ^

Journal Entry 11 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, July 1, 2007
Well, I'm not going to be able to agree with everybody, but I think I agree with most of you in one way or another {grin}.

First, I enjoyed the book very much, from Ted's Foreword (it was cute to have the Foreword from a character and not from the author): "You can't expect an arse like me to tell a story competently... You asked for it, you paid me for it, you've got to sit through it."

I rather like Ted's florid, wordy style [says the florid, wordy review-writer who knoweth not how to be concise], though at times it did get in the way of the narrative, and I really enjoyed the different points of view from letters and whatnot. [I noticed that the sequence of the items wasn't always what I would have expected; the hunting-scene flashback just appeared without warning - well, OK, there was a brief "my last visit" reference from Ted, but no other segue - and was referenced by the real-time characters later, and it took me a while to readjust my time-scale. For a while there I was seeing young David as age 11 in the main narrative as he'd been in the flashback, instead of his true age of 15, which put a very different spin on some of the subsequent events!]

I found lots of laugh-out-loud moments: Ted describing Jane's decorating style: " ottoman which was moronically tricked out in a design which would turn out, I supposed to be taken from some Mayan funeral shroud or mystic Balinese menstrual cloth" (I'll be unable to stop hearing that phrase whenever I see another overly-themed home decorating show); Ted bemoaning a poet's dilemma, where to use plain words makes people think the poems are mundane and to use exotic ones makes people think they're pretentious; this bit after he's agreed to go investigate things at Jane's request and has been chatting with David for a while: "...a strange and wonderful thing had happened, or rather, a foul and horrid thing had failed to happen. I had spoken for half an hour with a youth who claimed to be a poet and he hadn't so much as hinted that he wanted me to read a single one of his poems." [By the next page, of course, Ted has figured out that David wants to be asked, and having heard one of the boy's poems makes some amusingly snarky remarks - which I will not quote here because, by the end of the book, I realized that this provided a huge clue as to the "mystery".]

I should add that it wasn't all wacky phraseology; this line caught me by surprise, such a perfect image that I had to stop and "see" it for a while: "We walked on in silence for a while, the beagle pup leaping like a dolphin in the sea of long grass." I loved that...

In addition to the humor and the occasional bits of wonder, there were more than a few "Oh, my god, is he saying what I think he's saying?" moments, most of them related to sexual situations of one kind or another; I can see why SherlockFan was iffy about releasing the book at a zoo! [Those of you who didn't get as far as page 190 or so missed the most, um, mind-boggling? - and potentially disturbing - scene; while there are lots of references to sex acts in the book only a few of them are described with any degree of detail, but this one's depicted in all its "oh, ick!" glory. [Spoiler: select the blank space if you really want to know what it's about: OK, it involves a teenage boy and a horse. Makes sense in context, but still, consider yourself warned! {wry grin} End of spoiler.] From here, we get to imagine most of the other encounters rather than read them in detail, which might be seen as quite a relief {grin}.]

By the time the plot threads begin to come together (or should I say "begin to unravel"?) it's pretty late in the book, but I was pleased to find that I'd figured out most of it by then, especially the bits involving poor Simon. [I don't get upset if I can't figure out the solution to a mystery, but it's fun when I do.] I didn't quite believe the grand revelation scene in which the details are revealed to the family and houseguests, or at least the failure of everyone involved to leap to their feet and summon a psychologist; whether that's because the British would have been more willing to accept the situation (or more unwilling to publicize it) than Americans would be, or just because that's the way the author wanted it, I can't say. But I did like the resolution, and I closed the book with the feeling of having had a thoroughly good time.

So, quirkiness prevails - and thanks for sharing this very-quirky-indeed book!

[Update: I recommended this to my sister during a recent visit, so it's off to New York with her...]

Journal Entry 12 by wingGoryDetailswing at Horseman Diner in Sleepy Hollow, New York USA on Sunday, November 15, 2009

Released 14 yrs ago (11/15/2009 UTC) at Horseman Diner in Sleepy Hollow, New York USA



Got this back from my sister while visiting over the weekend. (She loves books but doesn't love to journal {grin}.]

I left the book on a chair in front of the Horseman Diner at about 1:30 on this beautiful afternoon, after having a very tasty omelet for lunch. Hope the finder enjoys the book!

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