memoir

Book review: North Face of Soho

North Face of Soho.North Face of Soho by Clive James.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

My plan to read all of Clive James’ Unreliable Memoirs volumes continues apace. It’s been a while since I read the first three, so this fourth is like an unexpected visit from an old mate.

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.
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Book review: Always Unreliable

Always Unreliable.Always Unreliable by Clive James.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

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…)

Book review: Francis Bacon in Your Blood

Francis Bacon in Your BloodFrancis Bacon in Your Blood by Michael Peppiatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you picked up Michael Peppiatt’s book looking for a biography of Bacon, you’re going to be disappointed. Yes, there are plenty of facts here. But no, Bacon-biog isn’t the point. This is a book about Peppiatt, himself. Actually, it’s more of a Venn diagram about how the writer’s life intersects with Bacon, though I must admit I am picturing such a diagram being loosely sketched on canvas by Francis himself, using the bin lid he kept for such circumference-related purposes.

To be fair, this book isn’t sold as an artist biography. Peppiatt has already written one of those, (more…)