Flying Visits

Clive James

06 April 2017
100 pages


Travel writing at its humorous best, Flying Visits collects the Postcards of Clive James originally written for the Observer between 1976 and 1983 – full of his distinctive wit and satire.

Whether enduring Australian television, exploring the mystifying Soviet Union, watching sumo training in Japan, or enjoying Sondheim via serial killers in New York, James is never less than thoroughly entertaining.

As a time-capsule of the period or as a humorous journey across the globe, this is an enduring collection for the well – and not so well – travelled.

'He writes with such wisecracking intelligence that you're happy to be taken around by him - whether to Japan, Los Angeles, or Sydney' – Guardian

Clive James (1939–2019) was a broadcaster, critic, poet, memoirist and novelist. His much-loved, influential and hilarious television criticism is available both in individual volumes and collected in Clive James On Television. His encyclopaedic study of culture and politics in the twentieth century, Cultural Amnesia, remains perhaps the definitive embodiment of his wide-ranging talents as a critic.

Praise for Clive James:

'The perfect critic' – A.O. Scott, New York Times

'There can't be many writers of my generation who haven't been heavily influenced by Clive James' – Charlie Brooker

'A wonderfully witty and intelligent writer' – Verity Lambert

Flying Visits is written with a riveting mix of wit, humour, satire and above all, penetrating observation. Here we have the triumvirate of fact, imagination and eloquence which does for the mind what a jumbo jet does for the body. You may never get to Peking, for instance, but this book works as a considerable consolation. Atmosphere is always as valid as cold fact when recalling a foreign visit and James manufactures mood with unequalled mastery
Clive James's collection is of unashamed first reactions to cities and countries after you get off the plane. He writes with such wisecracking intelligence that you're happy to be taken around by him - whether to Japan, Los Angeles, or Sydney
Following Mrs Thatcher round China, dazzling a posse of Russian hotel maids with his ability to say, with the help of a phrase book, 'The bath illuminations have been destroyed', rocking in the slipstream of Washington's joggers, he is a sympathetic traveller and a shrewd pinpointer of the funny, frightening, surreal or otherwise significant detail