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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic recollection of an Australian childhood
"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...
Published on 13 Sep 2004 by T. Bently

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.
I would suggest it appeals more to blokes.
I don't find labouring of the less savoury of bodily functions particularly amusing, and at times it just rambles.
Published 3 months ago by Ellie


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic recollection of an Australian childhood, 13 Sep 2004
By 
T. Bently "tbently" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
"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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious account of growing up in Sydney during the war, 12 Jun 2001
By A Customer
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
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This review is from: Unreliable Memoirs: Autobiography (Picador Books) (Kindle Edition)
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 Short, Sweet and Hilarious !, 30 Dec 2007
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An antidote to bad times!, 6 Oct 2003
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars self deprecatingly funny, 14 April 2014
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This review is from: Unreliable Memoirs: Autobiography (Picador Books) (Kindle Edition)
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 the box cart train and its terrible ending. obviously the truth is embellished for publication, but every second page made me giggle, and there's a belly laugh in every chapter. It's perfect for commuting or travelling - you can dip in and out, because the narrative is only loosely chronological.
I'd recommend it to someone who needs to laugh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOL, 16 Sep 2012
Clive James is a genius who marries up pathos with humour in such a way as to opens up your own life story along the way.He is honest and sincere. Read it and LOL,wince a little, shed a tear or two. Unforgetable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James is best at this!, 3 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Unreliable Memoirs: Autobiography (Picador Books) (Kindle Edition)
Having liked and enjoyed James' wry points of view, I decided to actually read the Aussie charmer for the first time. I found this book to be at least in the spirit of honesty, but more importantly, it sounded like Clive James...there is an authenticity to this voice which isn't, (in my view at least) present in his more 'academic' endeavours. He has an American writer's talent for pithy epigrammatic comment, but enough reading to give genuine literary merit to his descriptions of early life and childhood in a Sydney suburb. His mother is sketched in, whereas his school mates and other associates are more deliberately described. James is in thrall to academia and scholarship; bohemianism and the Literary giants, but is constantly fighting a rearguard action to comically portray his humbler origins, so that we don't misconstrue him as pretentious. He isn't pretentious, but his aspirations were, and indeed had to be, so the reader is left with a great deal of sympathy and enjoyment of a disarmingly funny and bright youngster, trying to find his direction in life without the help of a father and with a tang of the Tom Sawyer about him. I laughed out loud... and that is what Clive James has always done for his readers and his friends, which in my view makes him more valuable than a million academic aspirations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable Memoirs, 30 Jun 2012
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I first read this book about 20 years ago and remembered it as extremely funny - reducing me to embarrasing fits of laughter in the hairdressers. Having heard Clive James being intervied recently on the radio, I was curious to see if the passage of time would reduce my amusement.

I'm delighted to say it has not. Gales of uncontrollable giggles, tears of laughter and sheer delight at re-reading this delicious book.

Thank you for delivering my order so promptly.
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