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North Face of Soho (Unreliable Memoirs) Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook

4.2 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 4 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio; Abridged edition edition (6 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405092653
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405092654
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2.5 x 14 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 548,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"'His proses mixes together cleverness and clownishness, and achieves a fluency and a level of wit that makes his pages truly shimmer' Financial Times"

Book Description

A fourth volume of memoirs from one of the UK's (and Australia's) best-loved personalities

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Some commentators seem to tend to the view that Clive James has an over-high opinion of his own qualities. My own view is that these same commentators ought to belt up until they have written an article with anything like the clout of the introduction to From the Land of Shadows, to pick just one from a wide range of alternatives. North Face of Soho is the fourth volume in the Unreliable Memoirs series and it has been a long time since the third, May Week was in June, published back in 1990. Since then we have seen a lot less of James on the television and it is unlikely viewers under thirty will appreciate how much of a peak-time feature he was not so long ago.

There is no evidence in this book that James misses those times, and overall he appears to think that he is well out of it. Readers will find that North Face is generally darker in tone than the earlier volumes in the series, which had an embarrassing tendency to leave one spluttering with laughter whilst travelling on public transport, but there are still plenty of eye widening episodes included. Some of these relate to the author's copious consumption of booze and cannabis, both of which he gave up completely during the period covered, and the extent of his addictive tendencies is surprising, given the discipline that seems to have powered his creative output over the years.

A theme of slowly acquiring a greater sense of responsibility runs through this book. It begins shortly after James's marriage, with children on the way, and the future wellbeing of the family depending on his contribution to household income. The earlier sections tell of an endless round of poorly paid freelance pieces and deadlines that James could only meet by working through the night.
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By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's been a long time since the last installment of Clive James' Unreliable Memoirs appeared in 1990; the previous one came out five years before then, and the original volume (from which the series takes its title) five years before that. So there's been a change of pace, and there's a change of style as well. Much of the appeal of the first three books came from the stories of how a well-respected, intelligent, prolific media figure started out in life; the contrast between his tough public persona and - say - the defecating, masturbating, over-consuming child depicted in the first volume was particularly striking. The air of self-deprecation (if not brutal honesty) hung over the second and third installments, as he sought to make his way to England, and established himself at Cambridge.

Although this installment follows on immediately from the end of the last one (where he was just about to leave Cambridge following his marriage), everything changes here. Being more an account of how he found his way into London's media scene (where he became preeminent), he's left out the self-deprecation, preferring to tell the story straight. Part of this appears to be a sharing of his experiences in an attempt to instruct any reader who has ideas about following in his footsteps.
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Format: Hardcover
"Falling Towards England" was always the funniest book I've ever read. In this latest installment of his memoirs Clive James takes the humour of the previous volume and hones it to a sophisticated perfection - the descriptions of his colleagues and various editors and mentors at The Pillar of Hercules had me bellowing with laughter - but tempers it with an older wisdom, a poignant sense of time passing all too quickly and not in the right direction.
Here too are some wonderful apercus about the process of writing, and a passionate sense of how much it matters. The result is a celebration of the fun of bohemia and of the deep seriousness which must underpin it if the work is to get done.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Clive's biography continues with this audio book. It sparkles with wit and intelligence, but is written in a self depreciating style. It tells of how the writer makes his early forays into television and journalism.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a fan of the first 3 instalments in the "Unreliable Memoirs" series, I was looking for more of the same gags and truths but this book falls short of those that preceded it. There are still the witty flashes of self-depreciation, funny episodes with Clive (seemingly) falling ass-backward into high profile jobs etc. but I found myself losing interest towards the end.
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Format: Hardcover
There is much to admire in Clive James's writing: erudition, compact phrasing and a discursive style that can engage a reader's interest in often obscure topics. Unfortunately, the fourth instalment of memoirs takes all these elements and regurgitates them into accidental self-parody.

The problem that the author has is that the launching of his undeniably successful media career is likely to be of far less interest to his readers than it so obviously is to himself. The first three books derived their humour from the pitfalls of growing up in the suburbs and overcoming the gaucheness and pretensions of early adulthood, topics we can all relate to in some way.

The current book deals at inordinate length with the details of freelance contracts, negotiating a salary increase at the Observer and the rather inane accoutrements of the jobbing journalist - which doubtless induces a shiver of recognition in struggling freelancers but remains superfluous in terms of riveting biography. It is hard to see how we are supposed to interpret these vignettes apart from the fact that they are entirely self-congratulatory.

The same goes for the long passages about having lunch with Christopher Hitchens and Martin Amis. Despite the fact that Christopher Hitchens has had an awful lot of lunches with many people of interest, the buyers of this book are unlikely to be among them. The most revealingly comment on the "London Literary Society" lunch club, as Mr James dubs them, is that few, if any of them, have produced anything of note in years and Christopher Hitchens has become the cell block punk for the neo-conservatives in Washington.
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