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Thirty-one essays. Dedication to Ian McEwanThe epigragh: 'No fixed idea except to avoid fixed ideas.' Robert MusilI've read three so far, 'Larkin Treads the Boards', 'Slouching towards Yeats','Save Us from Celebrity'.I'm next to read 'Philip Roth's Alternative America', and then pick my way through the list. The Meaning of Recognition Polanski and the PianistFantasy in the West WingPushkin's Deadly GiftGreat Sopranos of Our TimeA Memory Called MaloufThe Hidden Art of Bing Crosby• Larkin Treads t...
A compendium of previously published essays that was a joy to read while travelling. James writes very well but there is one problem with republished essays whose wit so often relied upon references to current events in Britain or personalities of the time. These references do not travel and do not last. Other than that, vintage James.
Clive James in his usual, effortlessly erudite mode while also managing to be thought-provoking and often very funny.
It seems that I have been reading this collection of essays for most of the year. And now that I am racing to the end of the year, and have a few books left to hit my target, I managed to summon the discipline to complete it.This might sound odd, given I very often and very loudly proclaim that Clive James is one of my favourite, nay, most influential authors. But the truth is, in every prolific essay writer's life, a good proportion of his works will be on topics that you just don't care about....
Funny polticial and cultural digs (his series on the 2005 UK general election is acid and insightful). I needed to read someone who doesn’t believe that everything personal is political tbf. (Larkin is a great poet and was a terrible man – why is this so difficult for people to accept? Is it just the halo effect?) His long essay on Isaiah Berlin is fantastic and contentious, and his retorts to the professional philosophers who come at him about it devastating, inspiring.
A series of high energy squibs going off behind the eyes. James' essays pack enormous erudition and media trivia on to the same page. He can talk about Bruno Schulz in one breath and George Bush and reality TV in the next. Entertaining, polemic, sometimes even crass and just wrong - how could the coup in Chile have improved the standard of living for the average Chilean? But always worth reading...
Good spy story, but characters are less believablePitched as a Le Carre style thriller, it's a good technical read on tradecraft, but I felt the main protagonists were too overwhelmingly fabulous for the story. Would have preferred more flawed and less comic book heroes.