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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Some would say that Clive James has written his latest book the easy way: collate the scripts he's written for his presentations on BBC Radio 4's A Point Of View, add postscripts to clarify or revise his current thinking on these topics, and top & tail with an introduction and conclusion. You can see their point, if you're thinking about the enormous amount of work he must have put into the monumental (and indispensable) Cultural Amnesia but in fact, his modus operandi here is only a slight variation on the way he's assembled his other books (most recently The Revolt of the Pendulum) as collections of essays and reviews. These pieces were written to be read aloud, although they work just as well on the page - in fact, speaking personally as one who loves James's writing but is less enamoured of his speaking voice, they're even better in that form.

Unlike his other collections, in which his erudition is given free rein, his subjects here are more everyday: wheelie bins, Harry Potter, bicycling and giving up smoking. A lot of them have (what were) current events as their starting point: MP's fiddled expenses, the preparations for the London Olympics, Prince Harry in Afghanistan. And some of them are his personal musings on disparate topics, the most remarkable piece being a thoughtful discussion about the character of Jesus (James does not describe himself as a Christian). One of his recurring themes is his personal inadequacy when it comes to organization or practical matters, especially - he says - in the eyes of his family: the standout contribution here is a riff on how bad he is at wrapping Christmas presents, and what that means for the gifts he gives. I found pieces like this, which include glimpses of his personal life, to be most touching in light of his current circumstances: just after broadcasting the final talk at the end of 2009, he was diagnosed with the first in a series of debilitating and serious illnesses, and it's impossible to read this collection without contemplating a day when there'll be no more to come.

So perhaps assembling this book the easy way was the right thing to do (although, on the other hand, he's just brought out a translation of The Divine Comedy which he says is the result of over forty years' work). An American commentator has said recently "When England loses Clive James, it'll be as if a plane has crashed with five or six of its best writers on board". This collection, easy to read, stimulating in opinion (even when it appears wrong-headed, such as his seemingly unjustified disbelief in man-made climate change) and sparkling with his characteristic literal tricks [e.g. "Like anyone in the vicinity of the City Hall building at any time, I am always on the lookout for something pleasant to look at instead. Ken Livingstone works in City Hall and I would almost rather look at him than look at his building." (p73)], provides further evidence for that generous tribute.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2012
When you write something that expresses a point of view you believe in, and you know full well it may not be all that popular, non-PC or politically contentious, there are certain journalists and broadcasters from whom it is well worth learning. Clive James is one of them, and in his book 'A Point of View' he shows you how to do it with grace, style and wit, while delivering a well aimed punch.

However, for me he has one over-riding advantage when compared to say, Christopher Hitchens. In short, I can hear Clive James's voice in my mind saying the words as I read them, and that makes every word of his articles flow beautifully to their inevitable conclusion. However, having expressed his point of view in one of the many articles, what makes the book even more engaging is to then read what James feels about his particular subject or opinion now, with the benefit of hindsight. That addition is a masterstroke, as James can either turn up the volume, or row back a little in the light of subsequent events, and allow you as the reader to re-consider as well.

I've always enjoyed James's way of talking with those antipodean intonations and nuances, without realising how deeply he feels about all sorts of subjects until I heard him on Radio 4. The book is a gem and one of the most engaging and mind-broadening books you'll ever read. And for that, Mr James, we should all be eternally thankful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Clive James has made a living from observing the foibles of others and being very funny doing it.

In this book he is providing a view held by many of the things that annoy us all.

His use of language, like a pair of six guns in the old wild west is clever and entertaining.

Having purchased several of his previous books I would recommend this one too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2013
Collection of 10 minute pieces from his Radio 4 broadcasts. Acerbic, curmudgeonly, learned, funny... a writer whose voice rings clear in his prose. If you like James and his style, you'll love this collection of world-righting essays. If you don't, well - abandon hope.
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VINE VOICEon 2 July 2013
Perhaps it was the time discipline but this book allows the least part of Clive James's spectrum to command the tone. Distempered, disapproving, nationalist (of the British variety), Clive manages only here and there to be entertaining. Here and there for Clive, of course, is more than we get from most others. There cannot be many readers in Britain who are not into Clive James's writing. Like me, they will want to read this for its place in the Grand Overall Work. To those few who are new to the great man I'd say, start with the, when a start is properly made, mix them with the memoirs. This can be safely left to one side until you are very hungry. Site Works
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on 17 August 2014
always worth close attention.you will not find an imperfect sentence anywhere in his work.the sentences are like a painter's brush strokes;the real source of the delight.we do not do sentences in england any more than we do consonants,or straight thinking,or...amazingly,humour. australian education? his insistence on truth as the first value? read and learn,read and remember what english can sound like,before it is all lost....into the wolf's jaw.......bmc.
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on 10 April 2013
The book consists of the scripts for Clive James's point of view broadcasts with some additional comments. I only managed to listen to some of the broadcasts and although his website does offer the chance to hear them all. Reading the scripts adds another dimension and adds to my appreciation of the many witty observations they contain. Take care if on public transport, I found it impossible not to burst out laughing as I read this.
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on 8 August 2012
Clive James writes so intelligently and wittily about every subject. He is interested in such a wide range of topics and always ready to revisit his earlier opinions if he has had further thoughts - he's genuinely open to experience. At one's fantasy dinner party he's one of the first guests, surely.
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on 28 July 2015
Is Britain now really so decayed and worthless that nobody can review this crap? James is a laughable nonentity, ignorant on all serious subjects, and ideal for the BBC. Someone please have a serious look and crush him (and preferably chunks of the BBC). Do it now.
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on 24 February 2015
If you missed these essays when they were broadcast, this is the perfect opportunity to catch up. The book includes the author's comments on the reaction that he received to the original broadcasts.
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