In Snakecharmers in Texas, a collection of essays, written between 1980-1987, Clive James tackles burning issues and shining personalities from Barry Humphries to Barry Manilow and Michael Jackson to Michael Foot. He discusses the nuances of Kung Fu cinema, the lyrical footwork of Torvill and Dean and the charms of the Statue of Liberty; he reviews books, such as Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida and the poetry of Les Murray; and he writes passionately, knowledgably and hilariously on subjects ranging from the Sydney Opera House to snooker via the Cambridge Footlights.
Reminiscing about this book some years after publication, Clive James had this to say: 'a Jonathan Cape hardback in 1988, Snakecharmers in Texas became a Picador paperback in 1989. The title caused endless trouble in the bookshops, which were no longer keeping all the Picadors in the same spinner, but distributing them all over the shop according to classification. Thus it was that this book turned up, if it turned up at all, in shelves devoted to travel in the USA, or the customs of the Orient. For what an author's opinion of his work is worth, I think this is the book that best represents what I could actually do at a time of my life when I was under the impression that I could do everything at once and still stay out of hospital.'