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Unreliable Memoirs : Autobiography - Clive James

Unreliable Memoirs

Autobiography

Paperback

Published: November 2009
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Booktopia Comments

John Carey, chief book reviewer for the London Sunday Times, who knows a thing or two about these matters, named Unreliable Memoirs, as one of the 20th century’s most enjoyable reads.

I heartily agree. This book will have you laughing out aloud, which is great, but will also get you thinking about your own life, encouraging you to take things less seriously, and, as a bonus, Clive James' revelations about his own life will remain with you forever, giving you something to chuckle about in the face of life's small dangers...

Book Description

The first volume of Clive James's autobiography.

'I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment, that did not affect me.'

In the first instalment of Clive James's memoirs, we meet the young Clive, dressed in short trousers, and wrestling with the demands of school, various relatives and the occasional snake, in the suburbs of post-war Sydney. His adventures are hilarious, his recounting of them even more so, in this - the book that started it all...

'You can't put it down once started. Its addictive powers stun all normal, decent resistance within seconds. Not to be missed' Sunday Times

"All that really needs to be said to recommend Unreliable Memoirs is that James writes exactly as he talks, which is all his millions of fans could wish" Evening Standard

About the Author

Clive James is the author of more than thirty books. As well as his memoirs, he has published essays, literary and television criticism, travel writing, verse and novels. As a television performer he has appeared regularly for both the BBC and ITV, most notably as writer and presenter of the Postcard series of travel documentaries. He helped to found the independent television production company Watchmaker and the Internet enterprise Welcome Stranger, one of whose offshoots is a multimedia personal website, www.clivejames.com. In 1992 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2003 he was awarded the Philip Hodgins memorial medal for literature.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
Unreliable Memoirs
 
3.8

(based on 5 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

80%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to understand (4)
  • Deserves multiple readings (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Older readers (5)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Everyday reader (3)

    Reviewed by 5 customers

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    Displaying reviews 1-5

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    3.0

    Clive James memoirs of Australia

    By Nelle

    from Adelaide

    About Me Everyday Reader

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Easy To Understand

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Older Readers
      • Travel Reading

      Comments about Unreliable Memoirs:

      good read

      Comment on this review

       
      5.0

      worth its weight in gold

      By none

      from melbourne

      About Me Casual Reader

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Deserves Multiple Readings
      • Easy To Understand
      • Informative
      • Inspirational
      • Relevant
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Gift
        • Older Readers

        Comments about Unreliable Memoirs:

        Delivery of this book was fine but had problem with another which was finally resolved

        Comment on this review

         
        2.0

        Not all it's cracked up to be

        By Uxavz

        from Canberra

        About Me Everyday Reader

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Easy To Understand

        Cons

        • Disappointing
        • Not What I Expected

        Best Uses

        • Older Readers

        Comments about Unreliable Memoirs:

        To get through this read, you need to "hear" it in Clive's voice. I found it pretty basic and not quite what it had been publicised to be (per references plastered on front and back covers). I certainly did not find it terribly funny, and barely raised a smile throughout. There is a real fixation on pre pubescent and puberty experiences, which I could well have coped without knowing, and only finished reading the book because I felt I must (always hoping it would improve). All that I find wonderful, articulate and bitingly witty in Clive were sadly absent from what I would class as a self indulgent, poorly crafted offering. Fortunately, the book was inexpensive, so I can write this one off to experience...

        Comment on this review

         
        5.0

        I read this book over 20 years ago

        By luminair

        from Sydney

        About Me Casual Reader

        Pros

        • Deserves Multiple Readings
        • Easy To Understand
        • Informative
        • Inspirational
        • Relevant
        • Very funny
        • Well Written

        Cons

        • NONE

        Best Uses

        • Gift
        • Older Readers
        • Travel Reading

        Comments about Unreliable Memoirs:

        I read this book a long time ago and have never forgotten it because it was such a good read; and the warning about not reading in public etc was true. I found myself almost in hysterical stitches on the back of a bus one day while reading this. I am now buying another copy of it since the original copy I read was a library copy and want to read this again, as well as buy another copy as a gift.

        Comment on this review

         
        4.0

        Loads of laughs

        By Joybell

        from Melbourne Australi

        About Me Everyday Reader

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Deserves Multiple Readings

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Older Readers

          Comments about Unreliable Memoirs:

          Older readers can relate to a lot of things in their childhood

          Comment on this review

          Displaying reviews 1-5

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          "A huge best seller in England," we're told - which must mean either that critic James (First Reactions, p. 956) is a media celebrity over there or that the un-prettified adolescent-memoir genre (raunchy, self-deprecating) is still something of a novelty to the English. In any case, US readers - no strangers to the masturbation/ acne/inferiority-complex routine - will still find some engaging quirks in these crisp, smartsy recollections of growing-up in Sydney, Australia. Born in 1939, James had an absent father (a POW) and then none at all (a plane crash when James was five). The result was "an absurdly carefree upbringing" by his nervous, poor mother: pre-teen James was a "force of destruction" - wrecking the neighbors' flowers, knocking out street-lights, ineptly wearing a homemade mask-and-cape as junior gang-leader ("Only lack of opportunity saved us from outright delinquency"). Then, however, came puberty and more social activities: the Cubs, a mutual-masturbation phase ("I was queer as a coot"), agonies as a slow-developer in high school ("you can die of envy for cratered faces weeping with yellow pus"), panic over penis size ("In a class full of cock-watchers, I had to keep something between my shrinking twig and a hundred prying eyes"), success as the class clown, and the onset of heterosexual horniness. Fairly diverting material - but James self-indulgently provides more detail than most readers will want: e.g., on lapses in hygiene ("the snot supply," accidental bowel movements). And only the final chapters - about his gawky college awakening to literature and art ("I was not yet fully divested of the impression that E.M. Forster's principal creation had been Horatio Hornblower") - are consistently fresh and funny. Intermittent amusement, then, as tedium and arch self-regard alternate with genuine insights and vividly-evoked youthful stumblings. (Kirkus Reviews)

          Clive James

          Clive James is the author of more than thirty books. As well as essays, he has published collections of literary and television criticism, travel writing, verse and novels, plus five volumes of autobiography. As a television performer he appeared regularly for both the BBC and ITV. In 1992 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia and in 2003 he was awarded the Philip Hodgins memorial medal for literature. Cultural Amnesia was a New York Times Notable Book.

          Visit Clive James's Booktopia Author Page


          ISBN: 9780330264631
          ISBN-10: 033026463X
          Series: Unreliable Memoirs Ser.
          Audience: General
          Format: Paperback
          Language: English
          Number Of Pages: 176
          Published: November 2009
          Publisher: Pan Macmillan
          Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.0  x 1.3
          Weight (kg): 0.15
          Edition Number: 1