Clive James Watch #17

Review of Revolt of the Pendulum: Essays 2005-2008

Nicholas Lezard in "The Guardian": "When a collection of James's essays slides out of the Jiffy bag, other books can wait a while, for James's is the one I want to read first, even if I've read half the pieces before. But you or I won't have read more than half, and probably not even half, because we don't subscribe to all the magazines that James contributes to. We aren't aware of the Monthly (Australian, founded 2005) or the Australian Literary Review, and we don't see the New York Times as often as we'd like to. And we've never had a chance to get our hands on Previously Unpublished.

"Here, then, you might think, is more of the same, and if you've made up your mind one way or the other about Clive James then you might see little point in changing it. After all, his is a consistent viewpoint, informed as it is by experience, learning, and a fondness for the political centre. He spends just as much time telling off the left as he used to, in terms that suggest doctrinaire ideological positions indicate a tin ear when it comes to listening to history."

Reviews of The Blaze of Obscurity 

Mark Broatch in "Sunday Star Times" (NZ): "Readers interested in the man behind the ego may indulge in psychological biography beyond what he allows us: his absence as a father, the avowed uxorialism (an unexpected paean to his wife appears about halfway) and two daughters, the endless pursuit of female attention, the guilt about 'wasting time' on TV's evanescent virtues. But James admits/claims that he himself doesn't know what he is out to achieve, let alone why.

"Among all the creation, the essays (Cultural Amnesia being a high point), the memoirs, the novels, the busy website, the boy from South Sydney claims poetry is his true passion. Yet being Clive James, verse becomes another arrow in his quill to beguile, seduce, persuade. He notes in Blaze that a visiting Stirling Moss, the racing car driver, beat him to the Sydney university beauty simply by dint of sheer charisma, when James' poems had failed to make an impact. This was 50 years ago. It seems Clive James' attempts at seduction will never stop as long as he draws breath. And with his gifts, that is something for which we should be truly grateful."

Sunil Iyengar in "The New Criterion": "...James's most pointed barbs are reserved for himself. The author is shown as a young terror, donning a cape and mask at nightfall, ransacking construction sites and decimating lawns with makeshift scooters. In relating each childhood sequence, James's tone is wry and bemused, happily void of neurotic tics or psychobabble. Yet the shade of his father is never absent. For much of the book, the young James questions his own virility, latches onto strong male figures, and tries hard to alienate his mother. Nonetheless, the two bonded over a ritual viewing of four movies a week: 'My mother and I quarreled frequently but we reached a comforting unanimity on such matters as what constituted a lousy picture.'"


"How Broadway Conquered the World" - Atlantic Monthly

"Rocket Man" - review of Every Riven Thing by Christian Wiman in The Financial Times.

"Words Fail in the Pacific" - review of HBO mini-series "The Pacific"


Prior to an appearance at the Richmond Festival in late November, James spoke to Will Gore of the "Elmbridge Guardian".


The Wikiquote site has a number of quotes taken from James's works.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 6, 2010 2:28 PM.

Poem: Give Thy Thoughts to the World, Oh Poet! by Ellen E. Debney was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Bookcovers #236 - The Blue Guitar by Nicholas Hasluck is the next entry in this blog.

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