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The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years Hardcover – 2 Oct 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (2 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330457365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330457361
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 239,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

Book Description

Clive James on TV -- now in book form

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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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.
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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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By Friarofdoom TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Oct. 2009
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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