Reliable Essays

Clive James

23 May 2013
368 pages


Hilarious and trenchant, Reliable Essays collects the most memorable works of criticism and travel writing from well-loved author and broadcaster, Clive James. With an introduction by Julian Barnes.

'[An] intellectual as well as a joker, a wise man as well as a wit' – Observer

Whether discussing arts, politics or culture, Clive James opens up new avenues for thought whilst never being less than wonderfully entertaining. From his 'Postcard from Rome' to his observations on Margaret Thatcher, and his insights into Heaney, Larkin and Orwell, Clive is equally at home discussing the nature of celebrity and considering serious political matters.

With brilliantly funny examinations of characters like Barry Humphries, Germaine Greer and Marilyn Monroe, this is a thoughtful, analytical and thoroughly enjoyable selection of Clive at his best.

'[I]immensely enjoyable' – Telegraph

Clive James (1939–2019) was a broadcaster, critic, poet, memoirist and novelist. His much-loved, influential and hilarious television criticism is 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

He has widened the “tonal range” of criticism, permitting it to be both sober and skittish, learned and lewd, rhetorically rambunctious and epigrammatically concise . . . an intellectual as well as a joker, a wise man as well as a wit.
His writing is impeccably witty, flexible and urbane . . . immensely enjoyable to read. It’s a pleasure to see the metropolitan critic back in action.
He can both get to the heart of a subject and raise a laugh.