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Unreliable Memoirs Mass Market Paperback – 1900

77 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Picador (1900)
  • ASIN: B003BX8WQ2
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This would have to be the best offering from Clive James that I have read. His acerbic wit makes for great reading. I found this text on a bookshelf in a beach holiday house and was immediately captivated. I lost count of the amount of times that I not only laughed out loud, I snorted with appreciation and had to wipe tears from my eyes (much to the consternation of those around me) He captures the innocence of childhood with fleeting glimpses of maturity like no one has before, proving that he is not just a television presenter but a Rhodes Scholar to boot. If I could give this book more than 5 stars I would. It would be a shame to tell you more because this is a book that just has to be read to be believed!
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Devon on July 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have owned this book since it first came out, have read it multiple times over the years, and have all the subsequent four books in the Clive James autobiographical series (plus a few others of his). I hadn't planned to write this review, but having just read the five others on this page I feel the need to do something to help balance things out. The other five reviewers all appear to be Americans, which means they are unlikely to know much about Clive James, who is a household name in Britain and Australia. Nor are they likely to understand childhood in the old Empire in the times about which James is writing. And the comments from the mothers are a sad reflection of the way in which so many people now feel the need to shield their children from everything that could possibly cause them even the slightest harm. (I have two young sons and resolutely refuse, for example, to have them wear those dippy helmets when they are on their bikes.)

You have to understand this book both in the contaxt of the place and of the times. People in Australia, and even to some extent in the US, did this kind of stuff in the 1940s and 1950s. The criticisms of James as a person are hopelessly misplaced. And I can understand the comment about the inside jokes, but I was brought up in Kenya in a British expatriate household in the 1950s and 1960s, so much of what he says rings true to me. Although I live in the US I also lived in London for a long time and well remember James' excellent TV column. This book is one of my ten favourite of all time. It is funny, poignant, self-effacing, and well written, and a valuable record of a time and a set of attitudes long gone (not always necessarily a bad thing). Anyone who takes it too seriously, or who reads it completely out of context, like several other reviewers on this site, will never really understand either the book or the author.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. Morse on February 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a person unfamiliar with Australian geography and even less familiar with Australian cultural references, I merely liked this book. Clive James does a fantastic job in setting up many of the anecdotes he relates in the various chapters here. However, as an American who is merely semi-well traveled, I did not get many of the inside jokes. It is easy to see how funny this book could be if you really were tracking with the culture he grew up in.

This, however, is more of the reader's problem rather than the writer's. The tales related range from sadly familiar (dead father, incredibly caring mother, indifferent son) to some of the truly funniest writing imaginable (trying to tackle a world class rugby player; a chapter entitled The Sound of Mucus). James is really great. There are stories in here that everyone can relate to and it is all told in a way that is sharp in sensational details and vague on everything in between. If I could dump my memories into a book, this is probably what it would be like; only less funny and more stupidly written.

Broaden your horizons and read the book. It is a short read and will have you looking something up in Wikipedia at least once every few minutes.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Bently on October 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Unreliable 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 the most impressive of James' autobiographical writing. He has a gift for describing childhood and a kind of relentless 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 slice of 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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Gareth on February 7, 2000
I am only 13 but i could appreciate every bit in sheer briliance of a book. I could not put it down it was so funny. I strongly recommend this book, carefull through if you read it in public be prepared to laugh out loud and humilate your self.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D Campion on January 13, 2000
The imagery used in this story is the best I have read.
I could not put the book down and embarrassed myself by laughing out loud on the London Underground!
As a female with no brothers this book was an amusing insight into what goes on in (not so) little boys' minds.
Definately a must read book.
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