Snakecharmers In Texas

Clive James

28 March 2013
384 pages


Clive James tackles burning issues and shining personalities, from Barry Humphries to Barry Manilow and Michael Jackson to Michael Foot, in Snakecharmers in Texas – his fourth collection of essays, originally written between 1980 and 1987.

With his trademark erudition and wise-cracking intelligence Clive James discusses space travel, Formula One, the nuances of kung-fu cinema, the lyrical footwork of Torvill and Dean and the charms of the Statue of Liberty.

Clive reviews Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida, autobiographies by Alec Guinness and Bob Geldof, and the poetry of Les Murray. He is part of the press corps that accompanies the Queen on her visit to California and he follows Michael Foot during the doomed Labour General Election campaign of 1983. He writes passionately, knowledgably and hilariously on subjects ranging from the Sydney Opera House to the World Professional Snooker Championship via the Cambridge Footlights.

Reminiscing about this book some years after publication, Clive James had this to say:

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.

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