North Face of Soho

Clive James

07 November 2008
272 pages


From Fleet Street to the television, North Face of Soho is the fascinating and hilarious fourth volume of memoir from much-loved author, poet and broadcaster Clive James.

'[James] delivers his gags with honed elegance' – Sunday Times

It is 1968. Newly married, dressed in the style of the times ('a frenzy of bad judgement'), Clive James is leaving the cloistered world of Cambridge academia and setting his sights once again on the lights of literary London.

Luckily for him and us, this crack at the big city would go rather better than last time.

Still writing songs, directing sketch shows and trying to break into the movie business, with very mixed success, Clive eventually lands a weekly TV column at the Observer, finds his metier and rapidly becomes a household name. Credited with inventing a genre, Clive turns his attention to the previously critically disregarded medium of television to comment on the entire culture. Through the Seventies and early Eighties, from Fleet Street to Hollywood, from Russian department stores to Paris fashion shows, this is the hilarious, entertaining and honest story of a life lived to the full.

North Face of Soho is the fourth book of memoir from Clive James. Continue his story with The Blaze of Obscurity.

It’s not just that he writes a lot, but that he writes with intense perfectionism, and delivers his gags with honed elegance
I feel I know more about the author after reading it than I gleaned from all of his other books put together. This is a book about hard-earned self-knowledge. What makes it funny is quite how hard the self-knowledge was to earn
His proses mixes together cleverness and clownishness, and achieves a fluency and a level of wit that makes his pages truly shimmer