Clive James was once one of the Fleet Street regulars and London litterateurs, among them the Amises, pere et fils, Rushdie, Chris Hitchens and others, who met every Friday to trade gossip and to amuse themselves. This, James' first novel, written when he was 44, often reads as if he did it on a dare to entertain his friends who would get all the jokes and allusions. At the beginning of the novel James says that you don’t need a clef to write a roman a clef. There are many characters in this roman, many of whom are obviously patterned on figures of his day, but whom the author, bowing to Stendhal, finally claims to be only aspects of himself. How right he is! To add to the joke, the book ends with pages of scholarly analysis written by one Peter C. Bartelski, in reality the author sending up himself, exactly as his friends at the table might have done after a few hours of brilliant conversation and any number of bottles of wine.
James is a rare figure in modern writing--a truly popular journalist and television personality, a man of enormous erudition, wit, and curiosity about all things human. Rather like Edmund Wilson before him he manages to interest us in all that interests him. This book is not so much a novel with occasional digressions as it is a series of dazzling digressions reminding itself on occasion that it is supposed to be a novel. You will enjoy its company.
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (20 July 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 033028343X
- ISBN-13: 978-0330283434
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 200 g
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Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
7,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1553 in Contemporary Literature & Fiction