Clive James Watch #16

Reviews of The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years

Christopher Tayler in "London Review of Books: "James's memoirs sometimes present themselves as the serio-comic case history of a bizarre personality disorder that causes him to act, speak and write like Clive James. Twenty-nine years, so far, in the making, they operate on a double time-scheme. The figure who writes each book from a stance of increased wisdom with regard to his bungling younger self slowly changes his aims and methods, evolving in tandem with the figure he depicts. Unreliable Memoirs (1980), the first instalment, which tells the story of his childhood and youth in the Sydney suburbs, was written when he was 40, already well known but not yet a household name...there's a feeling that the real story - the story of a writer with a powerful sense of the ridiculous slowly turning into someone with only a vestigial one - is being simultaneously shirked and relived. The things James does now are characteristically wide-ranging, including as they do maintaining his extensive personal website and a reactivated musical career with Pete Atkin, but by 2001 the tendency to project himself as a sage in print had got out of hand."

James Panichi on ABC Radio National's "Book Show": "If the self-justification eventually becomes annoying, it's because loyal readers would have been expecting more. If there is someone who has what it takes to examine the interplay between cultural values and the role of television in western society it's Clive James. Here's a brilliant writer who went from a childhood in Australia, in which TV didn't exist, to a world in which the medium has become everything. Yet James has little to say about that transformation. He gets bogged down in the weirdness of the scenarios his producers have put him in, and neglects to examine the role TV is playing. But there may be a happy ending. Now in his 70s, James is focusing on his writing. If there is another instalment of his memoirs in the works, his fans may find a chronicle of this part of his life more palatable. Clive James the writer is a lot easier to love."


Alyssa McDonald in "The New Statesman":

You turned 70 not long ago. Looking back over the years, would you say there was a plan?
In retrospect, it looks like a master plan, but I just followed my nose. There are still things I haven't done - I need another 40 or 50 years of life. They say the first person who'll live to 150 is already alive, but I've got a feeling it's probably not going to be me.

Your career has had a very broad scope. Was that intentional?
It just feels like a natural consequence of the way the mind works. I just want to use every possible means of expression. The way fields of creativity connect and develop is one of the interesting things about life.

What would you still like to do?

Every writer would like to write a play. For one thing, it pays well.


"A Perfect Market" in "Poetry Magazine".


James was nominated for the poetry category of the Costa Book Awards for his collection Angels Over Elsinore, but was beaten to the award by A Scattering by Christopher Reid.

The "Chester Chronicle" chose James as providing one of the quotes of 2009: "The smartest move I ever made in showbusiness was to start off looking like the kind of wreck I would end up as. I was already aged in the wood."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 5, 2010 7:21 AM.

Australian Bookcovers #208 - Jim of the Hills by C. J. Dennis was the previous entry in this blog.

The Female Eunuch at 40 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en