May Week Was In June (Unreliable Memoirs Book 3)

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I ploughed on to the end of this book but I was tempted not to, because there isn't much to keep the reader turning pages. Nov 21, Glen Engel-Cox rated it liked it Shelves: This third volume of unreliable memoirs picks up where the previous volume Falling Towards England let off. James, in these books, is interesting, yet not as funny, at least to me, as it seems the things he is describing should be.

I definitely need to give his fiction a try. The nice thing about reading a writer's biography like this is to realize that you are not alone. It is much too easy for me to think that I am the only one with trouble concentrating on the matter at hand instead of flirt This third volume of unreliable memoirs picks up where the previous volume Falling Towards England let off. It is much too easy for me to think that I am the only one with trouble concentrating on the matter at hand instead of flirting with one passion after the other.

Nov 30, Lysergius rated it really liked it Shelves: Clive James as a student at Pembroke College Cambridge studiously avoiding anything remotely connected to the course he is supposed to be taking. Interposed between trips to Italy, Footlights and poetry this tale of a very lucky young man unfolds at breakneck pace.

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Very funny in bits Mar 27, Ginni rated it liked it Shelves: James is coming into his own here, at Cambridge University, and enjoying his first successes as a writer and as a producer of Footlights. The third and, the author tells us, final - although there were actually two more to come volume of Unreliable Memoirs finds Clive James at Cambridge in the sixties.

Reading everything except what he was supposed to be reading, and writing poetry, articles, song lyrics, travel pieces and sketches for Footlights of which he soon finds himself president , but precious little in the form of essays or papers, he cuts a fascinating path through the university. Most of the time he is perfecting his The third and, the author tells us, final - although there were actually two more to come volume of Unreliable Memoirs finds Clive James at Cambridge in the sixties. Most of the time he is perfecting his writing style, learning from the great German aphorists to set up perfect sentence after perfect sentence.

In this of course he succeeds brilliantly. May Week was in June is the perfect product of all that work: Feb 08, Thavakumar Kandiahpillai rated it did not like it. I haven't read any of Clive James' other books, and was expecting the humour I enjoyed in his TV shows.


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Also, I am not a big fan of theater. This is a personal story of his days in university, centred on his experiences doing revues. Therefore, it was not a subject I readily appreciated. The fact that I bought this book in a overstock sale at a fraction of it's original price should have perhaps cautioned me. May 22, Hilary Hicklin rated it liked it Shelves: The third volume of memoirs covers his time at Cambridge doing an English degree, taking part in Footlights, contributing to Granta and spending time with his girlfriend in Florence.

All this left precious little time for study but James scrapes a 2. Although this has its moments James doesn't wear his learning lightly and despite the occasional flash of brilliant wit I found this less enjoyable than the first two volumes to the extent that I found m The third volume of memoirs covers his time at Cambridge doing an English degree, taking part in Footlights, contributing to Granta and spending time with his girlfriend in Florence.

Although this has its moments James doesn't wear his learning lightly and despite the occasional flash of brilliant wit I found this less enjoyable than the first two volumes to the extent that I found myself skim-reading some sections. However when he's at his best there are few to touch him and for this reason I will read the fourth volume in the hopes of a return to full form. Mar 10, M-n rated it it was amazing. James has such a clever mind as does his fellow aussie Barry Humphries who has great interviews on Youtube and radio worth listening to.

Culture is alive and well and came from Oz or will be as long as these two comic watchdogs of the most benign sort are still alive. Jun 13, Wayne rated it it was ok. Too self indulgent for me. Enjoyed the first chapter and the epilogue. Only parts that made much sense to me. One star for being australian and one for being the last in the trilogy.

Jan 08, David O'Neill rated it really liked it. James is erudite and funny but sometimes a little too clever for clever's sake. He's always an entertaining writer. Jul 30, Pete Kelly rated it really liked it. More auto-biography from James. Feb 13, Leisha rated it liked it Shelves: Living and studying in Cambridge myself, I did enjoy the book. However, the author did not manage to hold my attention for long - a fair-enough read but nothing that I would read again.

Jul 23, Margaret rated it it was amazing. Feb 06, David rated it really liked it Shelves: Another great read, wise, funny, sometimes serious, famous folks. He must be nearer 70 than 60 by now, to the best of my knowledge his marriage has survived, and the combination of anno domini, stability and exposure has probably left him with nothing much more that he feels driven to tell us. His Cambridge career must have given the university more of a challenge in dealing with him than the other way about.

He read voraciously, but he read what interested him rather than what was on the syllabus.

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He devoted much of his time and energy to theatrical productions, and much of his time if not energy to watching films. To what extent he found the Cambridge experience formative I can't really tell, but it clearly didn't take him over. He mentions a number of personalities - F R Leavis who clearly angered him, Germaine Greer thinly disguised as Romaine Rand, and a few others such as the college dean who come across to me as institutions at least as much as they do as personalities.

Of the institutions properly so called he has a bit to say about the Union Society, which was clearly as imbecilic a tabernacle of triviality as its Oxford equivalent that I knew only a little earlier. Other institutions were the regular theatrical events, and here we get a genuine sense of involvement. Cambridge gave him a forum here where he could develop his talent.

It might have developed less if he had never gone there, but in any case he carried on with his theatre productions in London at the same time, so I'd guess Cambridge's real gift to him was the student grant that unintentionally left him free to do substantially what he liked. How reliable or unreliable these memoirs are I have to guess too, but I should think they can be believed a lot more than those of, say, Berlioz. Every newspaper review of this book since it appeared in must have pointed out that his or anyone's team on University Challenge consisted of four members and not three, and I wonder how this ever got past the proof-readers.

Those of his contemporaries that he deigns to mention by name are mainly unknown to me, but some may be pseudonyms like Romaine Rand. As the book continued I started to recognise more names. These by and large are people he can mention without compromising or embarrassing them, so it's fair to suppose that some of the unknown personae are aliases to avoid problems. The story reads convincingly, and of course it reads very well. The story of the attempt by one theatrical beauty to seduce him, in which he failed the test, is hilarious, but rather near the bone as well for someone whose occasional specialisation in such cases was just to abandon the scene or even to fail to recognise it as a scene in the first place.

As for reading what one wanted to rather than what one was supposed to, scrambling through the syllabus and finishing with a better degree than one deserved - well, that rings a few bells too. It's individual, and in its way it's brilliant as well. It has 'matured' rather by this third volume - the one-liners are not so conspicuous as before, but there are plenty left and the writing has more evenness and homogeneity. He traces his developing interest in artistic and intellectual creation of various kinds, and the wide-eyed ingenu quality of his appreciation is one of the things I like best about him.


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The last chapter, in which he hears, as we must, the clock ticking more loudly as he continues to look into the door opening ahead of him is really striking and affecting. I sense that Clive James has said most of what he was given to say, but how well he said it all. I love Clive James' writing - especially his wry style of combining haughty superciliousness with biting self-deprecation, often within the space of one line. He writes like he speaks, with a verbose sarcasm, and throughout reading May Week Was In June it's almost impossible not to hear his nasal, scoffing tones narrating the book for you.

And while this third and final? Unreliable Memoirs, where James told of his childhood days in post-war suburban Sydney, didn't have to exert any effort whatsoever to raise a laugh: James' skewed take on his youthful surroundings in Kogarah coupled perfectly with the countless moments of hilarity he lived through and strange and twisted acquaintances he made. In the same vein, Falling Towards England introduced us to a young man desperately out of his depth as a newcomer to the Mother Country, armed only with an ill-fitting suit and cardboard suitcase.

May Week Was In June is a continuation of James' days in Britain, as a late twentysomething attempting to forge an acting career in Cambridge while simultaneously stumbling clumsily through his English degree. Even though he's older he's still no wiser, being cursed with an overly healthy interest in women, a not-so-healthy interest in pints of ale and frustrating his teachers and himself by forgoing his assigned texts in their entirety to read countless books of his own choosing. Yes, it's funny, and it certainly continues to reinforce James' portrayal of his younger self as more larrikin than laureate and more clown than Casanova.

He's still a fish out of water, despite having immersed himself for many years in British culture, and his distinctly Australian outlook stands out in s Cambridge like a sore thumb. The funny moments, though, don't tend to come as thick and fast as in the first two memoirs. This was a shame, as episodes such as James practising his twist in his darkened bedroom in Swiss Cottage, and his teenage sex education in the back of a Kogarah garage, were what made the first two books so laugh-out-loud funny. James has grown up in his third boo, and is a slightly more serious and focused character with the emphasis on slightly, though!

However, the narration is still flawless in its eloquency and James proves he has not lost his sharp and unique way of observing the world around him with a cynicism that never grates, but constantly entertains. This third volume of unreliable memoirs picks up where the previous volume Falling Towards England let off.

James, in these books, is interesting, yet not as funny, at least to me, as it seems the things he is describing should be. I definitely need to give his fiction a try.

May Week Was in June by Clive James

The nice thing about reading a writer's biography like this is to realize that you are not alone. It is much too easy for me to think that I am the only one with trouble concentrating on the matter at hand instead of flirting with one passion after the other. Having so much enjoyed the first two volumnes in this series, I was not prepared for this turgid list of self improvement.

Yes Clive is well read, English and Italian, yes he does know the difference between a Donatello and a Michelangelo, but do we need to know every book he read in the two years, every painting he saw and how it moved him. The simple answer is no.

May Week Was in June

Unfortunately it takes pages to find out. The story of how a drunken extemely funny youth becomes a sober mildly funny old pseud. See all 7 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. May Week Was In June: Unreliable Memoirs Book 3. Set up a giveaway.