When Cultural Amnesia was launched last year I wasn't sure that it would even float. It was a pleasant surprise to see it steaming off in the direction of every horizon at once.
In hardback the book has done at least as well as any of my autobiographies, so I have high hopes for the paperback, which should be more in range of the student budget. The paperback will also be slightly less massive, which might mean that older people can read it with a smaller risk of being flattened. A complete unknown to me is how the eBook will do. I'm not entirely certain yet what an eBook is, but I prepared some special extra material for it just out of faith. All this is happening while I work on the manuscript of my fifth volume of unreliable memoirs. There are also two poetry books in prospect: a successor to my first volume of collected verse,The Book of My Enemy, and also a book of selected poems. I am also writing the introduction for a new essay collection. My retirement from mainstream television has made all this literary activity possible but my problem now is how to retire from my retirement while I can still walk.
- Clive James
The Cultural Amnesia special edition ebook comes with an exclusive foreword from the author and three additional essays. These ebook extras are offered both as an extension of the scope of Cultural Amnesia - of the story of a hundred years as told by Clive James - and as a preview of writing that will be included in Clive's next essay collection.
In his introduction to the extras, Clive writes about wrangling with the size and extent of his project:
I thought that I would have room to prove that a Formula One racing driver could be partly motivated by the temperament of an artist. When it became apparent that there would be no room even to suggest such a thing, I had to think again. But I didn't drop the idea, because it was based on an aesthetic perception, and that kind of idea is impossible to drop. We don't hold such ideas. They hold us.
In 'Damon's Bravest Day', one of the special edition extras, Clive James finds the space to include this idea in Cultural Amnesia after all. The other extras are 'Starting with Sludge', a journey through the reading life of the young Clive James, and 'Nicole Kidman's Poetic Stalker'.
Guardian journalist Robert McCrum caught up with Clive James to hear him read from his new poetry collection.
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