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May Week Was In June Paperback – 7 Nov 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Edit/Cover edition (7 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330315226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330315227
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Clive James is the author of more than twenty books, including four previous volumes of autobiography (Unreliable Memoirs, Falling Towards England, May Week was in June and North Face of Soho), collections of literary and television criticism, essays, travel writing, verse and novels. 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. His most recent poetry collection, Angels Over Elsinore, was shortlisted for the 2009 Costa Prize for Poetry.

Product Description

Book Description

The third instalment of Clive’s autobiography.

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.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
This looks like being the last personal memoir Clive James intends to let us have. After he left Cambridge he became well-known from the media, first as BBC film critic, then as the television critic of The Observer on Sundays, and latterly with several shows of his own. He must be nearer 70 than 60 by now, to the best of my knowledge his marriage has survived, and the combination of anno domini, stability and exposure has probably left him with nothing much more that he feels driven to tell us.
His Cambridge career must have given the university more of a challenge in dealing with him than the other way about. He read voraciously, but he read what interested him rather than what was on the syllabus. He devoted much of his time and energy to theatrical productions, and much of his time if not energy to watching films. To what extent he found the Cambridge experience formative I can't really tell, but it clearly didn't take him over. He mentions a number of personalities - F R Leavis who clearly angered him, Germaine Greer thinly disguised as Romaine Rand, and a few others such as the college dean who come across to me as institutions at least as much as they do as personalities. Of the institutions properly so called he has a bit to say about the Union Society, which was clearly as imbecilic a tabernacle of triviality as its Oxford equivalent that I knew only a little earlier. Other institutions were the regular theatrical events, and here we get a genuine sense of involvement. Cambridge gave him a forum here where he could develop his talent.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By OneHandWavingFree on 2 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
The book itself is enjoyable. Once again James tries to balance a self deprecating narrative with examples of his erudition. He doesn't always succeed - though I'm prepared to accept that he was something of a social inadequate in his youth.

The real problem with the book lies in the Kindle edition that I read it from. Like a number of other older books I have read using the Kindle app for the iPad, this particular Kindle book is littered with numerous typographical errors. I assume that the electronic text has been produced by scanning the original and then running it through an OCR program of some kind. What ever the reason, it appears that the book hasn't been proof read by anyone. There are so many errors that I cannot believe they would have left uncorrected if someone had read the text before publication. Hence the docking of a star.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hiljean VINE VOICE on 22 May 2011
Format: Paperback
Unreliable Memoirs, the first volume of Clive James's autobiography about growing up in Australia, was simply brilliant. Funny, self-deprecating, completely captivating and absorbing. The second volume, Falling Towards England, about his early time in the UK, was less enjoyable but still worth reading for the Jamesian wit. Sadly this third volume continues that pattern.

The book covers his time at Cambridge doing an English degree or actually everything but. He spends his holidays with his girlfriend in Florence - and these sections are a delight - and term-time reading anything that is not on the syllabus, writing poetry, contributing to Granta, and pursuing a theatrical interest with the Footlights. All of this is entertaining, as are the characters who surround him, but it doesn't read as easily as the previous volumes and is in places frankly boring. There is too much expounding of literary theory and schools of thought, too much discussion of opera, painting, and sculpture, so that I found myself skim-reading parts of the book.

Nevertheless there are some brilliant anecdotes written in James's inimitable style so that you actually hear his voice and feel he is telling you the story himself. For that reason I shan't be able to resist picking up the fourth volume of memoirs, The North Face of Soho, which I am sure will contain gems too.
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Format: Kindle Edition
If I might borrow from football punditry, this was definitely a book of two halves. The early chapters detailing Clive James's time as an undergraduate at Cambridge during the 1960s are very entertaining. James had secured a place at Pembroke College to read English Literature and went up in about 1965. Having already secured a degree back home in Australia he was able to study for the Tripos in just two years, and he set about making sure that he enjoyed every moment of his time in Cambridge. His recollections of his time in the Footlights are highly amusing and include detailed insights into figures later famous in their own right such as Eric Idle (subsequently a mainstay of Monty Python's Flying Circus) and 'Romaine Rand' (a notably transparent avatar for James's fellow Australian, Germaine Greer).

James tells his tale with a pleasing lack of modesty, though he never subsides into rank bragging either. He certainly managed to keep an impressive number of plate spinning on different poles during his time as an undergraduate (working for the Footlights, writing poetry, reviewing films, reading Proust, slowly, in French and even briefly editing Granta were just a few of the stings to his bow), though these activities naturally threatened to impinge upon his academic responsibilities. He certainly makes Cambridge in the mid-1960s sound a beguiling place.

The second part of the book, though, seems slightly dislocated and I found myself struggling to find the will to continue. It seemed to me as if he was including accounts of adventures (or perhaps misadventures) that befell him because he thinks that they could or should be funny, but lacked the physical or spiritual energy to apply the final gloss to make them so.

The positive certainly more than outweighed the negative but he did rather sell me the dummy with this one.
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