Customer Reviews: As of This Writing: The Essential Essays, 1968-2002
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on April 2, 2013
A great read, with insightful views which broadened (and deepened) my perceptions. James obviously admires Primo Levi, and the Italian language, and I re-read his two essays on Primo a number of times with enlightenment.
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on September 6, 2003
I thought this book was a wonderful collection of brilliant essays. I am very impressed with his range of subjects and feel inlightened by them.
This book features forty- nine essays on poetry, film, fiction, and criticism from his writings between 1968 and 2002. many with a up to date Postscript.
From Marilyn Monroe to Gore Vidal, Clive James help to expand your world
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on December 14, 2003
Wow, this is a long one, but it holds one's interest. At least, it held mine most of the time. Also, being a collection of 35 years of essays, it's possible to pick and choose. I mean, it's not like you have to read from p. 1 to p. 600 without a break. Clive James is a critic, one who writes for the NY and London Reviews of Books, the New Yorker, etc., etc. he's made a name for himself by becoming one of the central voices of literary criticism, and this collection of his essays shows how and why he's become the icon of our times. It's a keeper.
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on December 9, 2003
James gets three stars for having a good lively prose style and for penning a very good essay on Nixon instead of the one star warranted by the crudity of his views about poets. The worst parts of this book are the little afterwards he writes to his essays, in which he often puffs up his chest with pride at the critical establishment's supposedly coming around to his views, as if that makes any difference to any position's actual merit (or indicates how such opinions might ultimately change). James too often just writes about larger literary figures, superficially examining or recycling prevelant views, and has little to say about anyone a thousand more in-depth essays haven't been written about alreadly. He perpetuates the English academic's grotesque overestimation of that dated period poet W.S. Auden and attacks Theodore Roethke--a poet so beyond Auden it's almost laughable--so it's a disgrace when James dismisses Roethke as an Auden imitator. He may be right that Roethke DID imitate parts of Auden and others, but the fact that he took whatever techniques he learned from other poets, enlivened them and developed them farther than their originals ought not to escape the notice of an intelligent reviewer. That Roethke didn't stagnate and decline like Auden or Lowell, but changed and developed, often radically, is evidence for James that Roethke was a mere imitator. In other words, it's pure and shallow bunk. His essay on Heaney is good, if a bit fawining and unoriginal, and it's diminished somewhat by the familiar self-congratulations in the post-script. The Nixon stuff, however, actually does present an original and thoughtful perspective on a topic many have preconceived notions about--exactly what we want from an intelligent essayist--so it's definitely worth a read.
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on November 23, 2015
Brilliant writer.
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on February 23, 2015
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on July 22, 2014
I love Clive James but this is absolutely without value - half of the essays are reprints and the other half are amateurish. Don't waste your money as I did.
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on April 26, 2005
Clive James repeatedly asked: why did Primo Levi kill himself? I guess it never occurred to Clive that the simple pain of old age is enough to make anyone suicidal. Healthy youngish people always reveal their fatuous ignorance whenever they express shock about the suicidal tendencies of old people. Wondering why people kill themselves is a knee-jerk butt-backward approach. The real question you should be asking is: why *don't* people kill themselves? Clive finally turns realistic when he says: "For all we know, suicide is the mandatory escape route for anyone with clear sight, and the rest of us get to die in bed only because we have the gift of regrowing our cataracts from day to day."
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