Has Anyone Read Any of Clive James?

Home Forums Ask a Book Question Has Anyone Read Any of Clive James?

Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
  • Author
  • #333


    Clive James, man of many talents, roles and names to fame, admitted in an interview with Andrew Denton on 30 November 2009 that sometimes when he speaks he does not know what he is talking about.  Goodness, you can’t know the immense detail that is now available about all those things you’ve been taling about over your seven decades of living, can you, Clive?  Clive James has tried to absorb anything and everything that’s new and has caught his fancy. He says that he can’t abide hip-hop.  The motivation behind his huge body of work: essays, poems, books, inter alia–is partly, he says, his sense of responsibility that began in childhood.   He also has had a desire to: (a) use his time well and (b) experience the pleasures and fruits of solitude.  

    James’s literary and verbal artistry lies in his ability to seem both casual and careful on the one hand and erudite and more than just well-informed on the other.  He observes an imperfect world with acerbic off-handedness and humour.  He displays not only a formidable erudition but a giddy love of pop culture. So much of our culture, its history and its present, infuses James’s prose and his wit blossoms when he is interviewed.

    Writers, James emphasizes, often speak with a special pontificating voice. It’s integrated, judicious even in its doubts and purports to contain the distilled wisdom of a lifetime’s experience.  Almost always though, he says, this voice of the writer is at odds with the personality from which it emerges.  “In my case the discrepancy is so glaring that even I can spot it,” he says engagingly with a proverbial twinkle in his eye.   He introduces one of his columns about the mess that exists in his study and on his desk with the following question: “Are we able to think clearly when surrounded by a mess? Chaos, he continues, is inherent in all our minds, even those of the great writers and thinkers?–Ron Price with thanks to:(1) “Denton: Elders,” 30 November 2009, ABC1, 8:00-8:30 p.m. and (2) several interviews and columns of Clive James available on the internet at his website.

    It’s always a pleasure, Clive,
    although I can’t say I’ve read
    all your 30 books..there is too
    much else which catches my

    fancy, my mind and emotions

    down the road of life: you too?

    You said a good deal tonight
    which pleased my sensory &
    intellectual emporium…your
    words about creativity & sex;
    your comments about our wide-
    wide world thrown off with an
    insouciance and concern, with
    a humour and seriousness as…
    befits your life in the world of
    erudition and our pop-culture..
    entertaining the mass as you’ve
    travelled your road during these
    epochs, my age, contemporary,
    Clive, just a little bit older and
    so much more well-read: how

    on earth did you do it, Clive?
    How did you do it, Clive????

    Is this all there is, Clive, this life?
    Ah well, we can’t agree on every
    line of thought, can we Clive????(1)

    (1) my Bahá’í beliefs posit an afterlife. But whatever one believes, in the end, we are all in part at least–agnostics, since belief and knowledge are different things.

    Ron Price
    1 December 2009

    (slightly updated for

    Fiction Forum on: 16/4/’10)



Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.