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Unreliable Memoirs: Autobiography (Picador Books) [Paperback]

Clive James
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

7 Nov 2008 Picador Books

‘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


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Unreliable Memoirs: Autobiography (Picador Books) + Falling Towards England : Unreliable Memoirs II + May Week Was In June
Price For All Three: 20.72

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New Ed edition (7 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033026463X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330264631
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,781 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

Review

'A blissful account of a tragi-comic Australian boyhood by Australia's wittiest living writer.' --Red

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic recollection of an Australian childhood 13 Sep 2004
By T. Bently VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
"Unrelaible Memoirs" is Clive James' description of his upbringing in a Sydney suburb lasting up to the time of his university education. I was expecting it to be funny but wasn't quite prepared for the raw emotion and literary skill displayed on virtually every page.
To me this is perhaps the most impressive of James' autobiographical writing. He has a special gift for describing childhood and a kind of fearless honesty which is hilarious and provides something of a turbulent rollercoaster ride for the reader, as he describes the trauma of being a single child to a single parent in the aftermath of the second world war.
I felt a little left behind by many of the historical and literary references James makes but this is more than made up for by the relish with which he uses the English language. For example, he describes a friend's mother giving him buttered bread covered with hundreds and thousands as like "eating a powdered rainbow".
"Unreliable Memoirs" made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. I wish I had read it years ago.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the funniest books ever 24 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback
This is one of the few books where I have genuinely laughed out loud, the part where the soldier puts the bomb into gun backwards had me in hysterics, unfortunately I was on a crowded train at the time

Fabulous book and very well written. How I wish I could write like that
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Clive James is the funniest man we have.
Just take this paragraph as an example :
Unreliable Memoirs By Clive James pp97-98
'...swarms of girls wearing Speedo swimming costumes. The Speedo was a thin, dark blue one-piece affair whose shoulder straps some of the girls tied together behind with a ribbon so as to tauten the fabric over their pretty bosoms. On a correctly formed pubescent girl a Speedo looked wonderful, even when it was dry. When it was wet, it was an incitement to riot.'
Funny and revealing with a heartbreaking account of how his father became a POW in changi and never returned.
Its something of a cliche, but I'd describe Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James as a 'bellyful of laughs and a bucketfull of tears'.
A must read book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most fun I've ever had reading a book 11 Sep 2013
By Wendy L
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first read this book when I was about 25, I'm now 48. This is a book I have bought so many times, because each time I read it I enjoy it so much I have to pass it on to someone else and spread the joy!

Insightful, intelligent, warm and genuinely funny. I even gave a copy to my dad, who only ever reads books about Pythagoras and Cricket - I will cherish the image of him snorting and choking laughing, with coffee pouring out of each nostril!

Thank you Clive, for showing me that my Dad does indeed have a sense of humour, though not a razor sharp as yours perhaps. You are a diamond!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An antidote to bad times! 6 Oct 2003
By Seren
Format:Paperback
I have owned this book since its first publishing in paperback and it has stood me in good stead through divorce, depression and hospitilization. In short if black clouds are looming this book will chase them away. Snot snortingly funny, well written and honestly moving. Its the one book I would never want to be without. Buy it - you won't regret it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, Sweet and Hilarious ! 30 Dec 2007
Format:Paperback
As it is so funny, I read this book about every 5 years for a 'top-up'. I always enjoyed the scribings of Clive James in his 'The Observer' articles critiquing TV, so am already attracted to his style of writing.

This volume covers the his first years and, whilst his childhood is not necessarily that remarkable or so different from many other people, it is the way he writes about the various happenings through his life that make it so enjoyable to read.

Admittedly for British readers such as me, there are certain aspects which make it more of an attractive read due to his upbringing being in another country, but the central reason why this book makes me laugh so much is the way he delivers a literary 'punchline'.

The conciseness of the text also means there is little chance the reader will get bored, since no single subject is covered for very long.

This book, along with the following volumes covering his later life on arrival in the UK, is thoroughly recommended !
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 11 Dec 2001
Format:Paperback
I picked this book up for three reasons - I had read some of Clives work previously and enjoyed it, I have always loved his style and dry wit on TV, and I had lived for a time in Sydney, Australia.
Unreliable Memoirs is an excellent illustration of Clives humour, and a bright insight into a Syndey that once was.
Altogether funny, Clive builds up episodes and explodes them with a sardonic punchline. The general advice is to read this book alone - not because you can't suppress laughter in public, but you won't be able to suppress surprise!
I am looking forward to completing the other two books in this trilogy.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unforgetable 19 Feb 2002
Format:Paperback
I am about to buy this book for the second time, my first copy having been lost long agao. In a recent discussion with a friend we recounted our list of best books. and this was at the top of my 'auto-biography' list. Although it is many years since I last read it it still remains vivid in my memory. I can still picture the 'dunny-man' running full tilt into Clives carelessly discarded bicycle and spilling the contents of the Dunny all over the yard. or the box-car race down a steephill.
the comic timing is excellent the story so well told it leaves you breahless with admiration for his intellegence and self-depreciating humour. Yes it is laugh-out-loud funny. it is a book you will urge your friends to read after you. Buy it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great thanks!
Published 4 days ago by MR A C PARKER
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read.
Published 13 days ago by A. V. Baik
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb - I wish that I had known him...
Published 27 days ago by Enid Irving
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great.
The voice we all know so well from TV comes at you from every page. Witty and insightful, this is an accomplished account of a childhood unfamiliar in many ways to any native Brits... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Barista 1
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant
Published 1 month ago by MRS HJ FERRIS
5.0 out of 5 stars I have loved his writing since his TV column days
An outstandingly amusing book. I have loved his writing since his TV column days . It was an easy decision to add this to my Kindle library!
Published 1 month ago by Hip hot Dog
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wry, honest (I think) and entertaining description of his life in Sydney before he came to London;well worth reading.
Published 1 month ago by Steve.
3.0 out of 5 stars disppointed
I had read an excerpt from this book and had expected more.In fact t h at excerpt was probably the only bit where I did laugh out loud. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ellie
5.0 out of 5 stars self deprecatingly funny
if you like Clive James' style, you'll love this. tales of his childhood in suburban Australia, with enough accidents and mischief to be familiar to all of us-my favourite story is... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gail
1.0 out of 5 stars ???
Clive James, terminally egocentric self-publicist. I shan't make this mistake again. I bought this book because I thought it would be funny.
Published 6 months ago by Tyandree
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