Books: North Face of Soho |
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North Face of Soho


1Blotto Voce
2Gateway to Grub Street
3Enter the Master Swordsman
4Early Steps in Opposite Directions
5Night of the Killer Joint
6Waking Up Absurd
7Square-Eyed in Darkness
8Star Encounters of the First Kind
9A Lunch is Born
10Pasting It Together
11Welcome to the Colosseum
12Pygge to the Rescue
13The Name’s Prykke: Peregrine Prykke
14Tynan Steps In
15All Day Sunday
16Beyond the Attack of the Killer Bees
17Nice Bike, Captain Starlight

“Covering my role in the sweep of history from the late sixties to the early eighties, the fourth volume of my unreliable memoirs, North Face of Soho, came out in hardback from Picador in late 2006. For the first time, I went on the road with a one-man show based on a specific book, and I did 32 one-night stands around England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, reading less and less from the book all the way as I piled on more and more incidental commentary. But something like the full text was read out for a Picador talking book on CDs and I also recited extensive excerpts for a BBC radio serialisation. There will be a paperback in June 2007. At the moment I have one more volume of autobiography planned, to cover my television years from 1982 to the millennium, but if I don't get the chance to complete that one, there are enough valedictory notes in North Face to provide suitable texts at the funeral.”

* * *

After Unreliable Memoirs, Falling Towards England and May Week Was in June comes the next instalment in the ongoing saga that is Clive James’s life.

At the very end of May Week Was in June, we left our hero sitting beside the river Cam one beautiful 1968 spring day, jotting down his thoughts in a journal. Newly married and about to leave the cloistered world of Cambridge academia for the racier, glossier life promised by Literary London, he was, so he informed his journal, reasonably satisfied. But what happened next?

Quite a lot, is the answer. From Fleet Street to Clive James on TV, from Russian department stores to Paris fashion shows, writing plays, poetry, lyrics, reviews, essays, articles, and novels — as well as Unreliable Memoirs volumes one, two and three — Clive James was never not insanely busy. Throw in fatherhood, some killer bees, and a satire starring Anne Robinson as Mrs Thatcher, and you still don't have the half of it.

Intelligent, amusing and provocative (the words apply to the man himself as much as his memoir), North Face of Soho tells the whole story, in all its glory. Every bit as entertaining, engrossing and honest as the previous three volumes, it's a book that's long overdue, has been eagerly anticipated — and proves well worth the wait.

First published 2006 by Picador.

To Norman North,
with thanks

“I wonder if I am not yet talking again about myself. Shall I be incapable, to the end, of lying on any other subject?”
— Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

“An old man remembers everything, but then he forgets that he told you.”
— Montaigne