Well, here we are. This is the final volume in Clive James’s Unreliable Memoirs series. It’s the fifth book wherein the éminence grise (or should that be éminence chauve?) describes his continued ascent through the land of the crystal bucket. With The Blaze of Obscurity, the Australian writer moves from being about the box to being mostly on it. It’s where shows began to be prefaced with his name, not just his image.
From now on, in this book, I will try to leave my name out of the title of the shows, thus to circumvent the twin fears of wasting space and sounding more than necessarily like a self-glorifying pantaloon.
In this volume, Clive is – in the polyester-and-beard ’70s – married and attempting to shift towards a more stable income. However, that’s not as simple as one would expect, and the pages detail epic poems, poet-bashing, too-smart songwriting and a dinner (with surprise trumpet interlude) with Spike Milligan. (more…)
After Clive James died, I figured it was time for me to read his autobiographical sometimes-fiction Unreliable Memoirs collection. Here, there’s three books under one title, which is bad news for my Goodreads challenge numbers but pretty good in terms of entertaining stories per book.
It can safely be assumed that any writer who gives you a record of his own life is nuts about himself.
It’s a little strange to refer to these works as autobiographical when almost all of James’s work features a certain level of autobiography. His travel writing, his television reviewing, his poetry – all these things feature a level of personal revelation and engagement, because in all his work James presents places and experiences through the lens of himself. (more…)
When I was younger, I think a bit of my sense of humour was shaped by Clive James. I remember him being on TV, counting down gaffes of the year or offering his own (admittedly self-amusing) takes on world figures. I didn’t quite understand why it was funny that Leonid Brezhnev looked like he was operated by a foot pump, but there was enough stuff I got to make the confusion worthwhile.
Not audible: snark.
As I grew up (and his TV appearances grew fewer, perhaps) I didn’t pay that much attention to him. Now, he’s back in the news. It’s the end of his life – illness is likely to claim him soon – and I felt a need to catch up on some of his written work. He was, after all, a columnist of renown for quite a while, so it seemed fitting to dive into some of his pieces. (more…)