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Reliable Essays: The Best of Clive James

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  4 reviews
Introduced by Julian Barnes, Reliable Essays is the definitive choice of Clive James's essays, selected from thirty years of prose. Including classic pieces such as Postcard from Rome, and his observations on Margaret Thatcher, it contains funny examinations of characters like Barry Humphries, while elsewhere showcasing James's more reflective and analytical style.
Paperback, 349 pages
Published December 1st 2002 by Pan MacMillan (first published 2001)
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3.99  · 
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 ·  100 ratings  ·  4 reviews

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Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mostly haute subjects for once, but always bas on bs.

He: brags about having spotted Heaney very early, points out the fatal ideological flaws in both Mailer and Greer, fiercely challenges translations from the Italian, the Russian, the German; summarises every major photography book of the late 70s; shows that liberalism and classicism remain standing, “less bad than all the others” even after the sustained insult of C20th Theory; and some other such generalist feats.

The last two section title
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
OK, s I don't really like Clive James very much. The book was a gift from a much beloved baby boomer friend, and all I could really think as I read it was that James erudite, academically arrogant style was perhaps a generationally based taste. The world that James inhabits so easily, of the 'canon' of British and European literature, is not the canon I was raised with.So I can admire his skilfill skimming dipping and diving within that world as a general outline, but much of the specifics are l ...more
Ryan Williams
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After reading Larkin's All What Jazz, Clive James wished he'd bought ten copies instead of one. After reading Reliable Essays, I wished I'd bought fifty. I've re-read this more often than any essay collection by another writer, and I own collections by Burgess, Orwell and John Carey.

In a just world, James's essay 'Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Masses' would knock E.B. White's 'Once More to the Lake' out of the box as the model for every composition class. I wish more essays had be
David Parkes
I was in the UK throughout the period James was a TV critic and presenter and read many of his regular Sunday reviews, so I am very familiar with his 'popular' output.

He can be very funny at times but his 'serious' reviews tend to the verbose and are unfailingly employed as a way to display his own erudition. Many, if not all, of his reviews would have benefitted from a 50% reduction in word count.

You really won't miss much by not reading this and there are far better books by James if you want
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An expatriate Australian broadcast personality and author of cultural criticism, memoir, fiction, travelogue and poetry. Translator of Dante.