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The Blaze of Obscurity: Unreliable Memoirs V
 
 

The Blaze of Obscurity: Unreliable Memoirs V [Kindle Edition]

Clive James
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Review

'Thoughtful about the mechanics and indeed the purpose of television . . . good on the potential dangers of chat-show guests . . . James cannot find it within himself to write a dull paragraph . . . an entertaining read . . . I enjoyed it.'
-- Roland White, Sunday Times

'James, who turned 70 last month, is as hilarious and self-deprecating as ever' --Sunday Telegraph

'He's in cracking form in this new book and there's no doubt that he's a master of words whatever the medium' --Good Book Guide

'Full of amusing, insightful anecdotes... Clive James is a natural storyteller, one whose talent is as effective on the page as it is on screen'
--Leeds Guide

'An entertaining run through his life and career of meeting the rich and famous... he comes across as one of the media's nicer guys, with a wry sense of humour about himself and the people he meets, His writing is such that you feel you can hear his voice.' --Western Daily Press

'It is the life of the mind, as ever, which is celebrated above all else, and when you've got a mind like James's, even a trip round his kitchen is an unfettered, if carbonised, delight.' --Time Out

'Here is a fine writer, with a style that is as punchy as it is elegant.' --Sunday Mercury

'His is a narrative of hopes and discontents of someone not quite at ease with his good fortune.' --Contemporary Review

Product Description

For many people, Clive James will always be a TV presenter first and foremost, and a writer second -- this despite the fact that his adventures with the written word took place before, during and after his time on the small screen. Nevertheless, for those who remember clips of Japanese endurance gameshows and Egyptian soap operas, Clive reinventing the news or interviewing Hefner and Hepburn, Polanski and Pavarotti, Clive's 'Postcards' from Kenya, Shanghai and Dallas, or Clive James Racing Driver, Clive's rightful place does seem to be right there -- on the box, in our homes, and almost one of the family. However you think of him, though, and whatever you remember him for, The Blaze of Obscurity is perhaps Clive's most brilliant book yet. Part Clive James on TV and part Clive James on TV, it tells the inside story of his years in television, shows Clive on top form both then and now, and proves -- once and for all -- that Clive has a way with words . . . whatever the medium.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 494 KB
  • Print Length: 340 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0330457373
  • Publisher: Picador (10 Feb 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003GK230G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #51,063 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Clive James continues telling the story of his life by describing the years he spent wrestling with the one-eyed monster that is television: trying to make entertaining programmes that were interesting, told a story, or produced some penetrating insight from a celebrity guest. Although I'm a big fan of his writing, I should say that I'm less interested in his work for TV - partly because, not possessing one, I've hardly seen any of it, and also because I'm less enamoured of his speaking voice than his writing one. So my expectations of this book weren't high before I started it. As it turned out, however, I ended up enjoying it a lot - in fact, somewhat more than the previous volume of his memoirs, North Face of Soho, which deals with his entry into the London media world.

I think one of the reasons for this is that there's more going on: the scouring of the world's TV output for the peculiar or amusing (culminating in - or rather, beginning with - his exposure of the Japanese game show "Endurance"), the trips to cities around the world for the "Postcard" series, the celebrity interviews and the end-of-the-year show. He describes the work that goes into putting the programmes together, highlights what can go wrong when some important detail is missed, and is always careful to acknowledge the efforts of his colleagues (the producers, the editors, the researchers) lest anyone think that all he had to do was turn up and start talking. He also describes how much time all this takes, and how he tried to find space in a packed schedule in order to write essays and reviews (collected together in books like
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Return of the Metropolitan Critic 4 Oct 2009
By Obelix
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In 1982 Clive James migrated to television full time. Before that he had led a charmed, if precarious, life in Fleet Street, eventually landing a job as the Observer's TV critic. This, the fifth volume of his Unreliable Memoirs, is the story of what happened next.

In the first volume in the series, James warned us we were getting a novel disguised as an autobiography. But by the time you get to the fourth volume, North Face of Soho, fact seems to have elbowed fiction aside. That's no bad thing, for fiction just wouldn't have kept the pace - and it's something critics forever peddling the 'that-bighead-Clive James' line would do well to consider.

TV, in James's account, seems just like theatre on a larger scale: i.e. its natural state is impending disaster somehow turning out just fine. The smallest things take days of painstaking preparation. Linking shots, satellite interviews and Billy Connolly's suits are to this volume what Kogarah's spiders and snakes were to the first one. As before, stories that might be cruel on the first read are saved by generosity. Read his account of interviewing Tammy Faye Bakker, wife of the 'gate-mouthed television evangelist' Jim Bakker, to see what what I'm talking about. For readers who knew James as a TV personality first, the pleasure of these anecdotes - and the ones about Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Kate Winslett, Peter O'Toole and Princess Diana - can only be greater.

But that's not to say his sympathy is without limits. If there's one good thing to say for Hugh Hefner, it's that he pushes James's satire towards the heights of his 'Edward Pygge' parodies and classic essay, 'Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Masses'.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking back in anger 23 Oct 2009
By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
Clive James continues his memoirs with the section that most of the public,(myself included), remember him best for, his work on TV. He talks of the pioneering methods used on 'Clive James' on TV such as the, not always entirely successful, satellite link ups and a weekly look at other cultures on their own TV stations, such as the entirely unhinged Japanese game show 'Endurance' which often seemed to Western audiences more like legalized torture than fun. He talks candidly here of many interviews both those that worked and the often far more interesting disasters.
There is no doubt James is not trying to bite the feeding hand here but it has to be said his inability to view all his recollections with anything other than a very jaundiced eye becomes pretty wearing before too long. However this has to be pointed out as being a minor grumble as the sheer weight of fascinating memories and the huge array of stars, many of whom have since passed away, and equally fascinating stories really do hold you transfixed as he openly shares his thoughts.
His impact on the way television was presented and the way a shows presenter should behave challenged the rather stuffy ideals of his day and opened up the world, not simply to be laughed at, but to be embraced and admired.
It's to his credit he doesn't spend any time blowing his own trumpet here and, despite the sharp humour, he does seem to appreciate the contribution of all the people he met.
I suppose this was always going to suffer in comparison with the previous 4 volumes which were erudite and insightful with a wealth of knowledge on display. After all television more often than not dumbs everything down and so memoirs of a television career are going to reflect that dumbing down to some extent.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Why is this listed as "Humour"?
I have enjoyed James' previous autobiographical books which concentrated on amusing anecdotes of his early life in Australia and his subsequent move to the UK. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr Tony Edwards
3.0 out of 5 stars Wrong format?
I have downloaded onto disc Clive James memoirs V. The disc plays perfectly on computer but not on disc player in sitting room. Is this recorded in wrong format? Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2012 by Bryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking.
Like the other volumes in this series, Clive James has the ability to keep you entertained and at the same time give you pause for thought. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2012 by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars Another slice of James
Okay - I nail my colours to the mast straight away in saying I am a fan having got copies of all the previous volumes. Is this the best? Simply - no. Read more
Published on 13 July 2011 by Timestar
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best in the series...
Many times, as I was reading this book, I longed to say to Clive James, 'Look, you're among friends - relax! Read more
Published on 22 April 2010 by Sean Tynan
5.0 out of 5 stars More Mr James More
This was a great read, I enjoyed it from start to finish, I have enjoyed Clive James work for years, this book is just more of the same great entertainment. Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2010 by Paul O'Malley
5.0 out of 5 stars Clive James
I am unable to review this book as it is a Christmas present. However, it came very quickly and in excellent condition.
Published on 18 Nov 2009 by J. Ratcliffe
5.0 out of 5 stars Why aren't more people giving the BBC the kicking it deserves?
Not enough books like this around. There should be more. And more people should read books like this.
The book is excellent. Very readable, and enjoyable to read. Read more
Published on 15 Nov 2009 by Rainbowdog
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome addition to the series
Mr. James guides us through his wonderful T.V. years and for one who stayed in for at least two of his New Year specials I'm glad his personal finances were such that he had to... Read more
Published on 4 Nov 2009 by oz
4.0 out of 5 stars No Endurance needed to read it.
Unlike other reviewers I've not read James' previous biogs/memoirs. However, most people will be aware of his television shows, his novels, poems and literary criticisms. Read more
Published on 29 Oct 2009 by R Hernandez
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