Falling Towards England
The second in the Unreliable Memoirs set of books sees Clive James newly arrived in post-war England, a Sydney boy trying to make good in the bright lights, high(er) society and learned sets of English society. Don't read this, however, if you're expecting the really breezy, cleverly observant, self-deprecating ways of his childhood. Young adult Clive James is a different beast and he's out of place, out of step and seemingly somewhat out of clues in this world.
Moving from self-deprecation clearly into a form of almost self-loathing, the Clive James that is trying to find his way in England, leading eventually to University post-grad studies, is struggling, and as you'd expect from Clive James he lays that on the line - warts, failures, drunk debauchery, questionable attitudes to friends and women, financially broke, morally bereft and simply lost, he's a bit on the whingy side, as well as brutally honest and self-flaggelating.
It's not until I finished FALLING TOWARDS ENGLAND and had some time to think about it that I came to see the the honest microcosm of that entire period. On the one hand self-reflective, on the other utterly self-destructive. Inward looking, scared and timid whilst also being a time of great scientific and societal advancement. In the middle of all of that sat an Australian man with no idea what he's doing or where he's heading, with a desperate need for acceptance, love and to be in on the act.
Sprinkled, as usual, with great observations, some positively cringeworthy moments, and a heap of stuff that everybody who has ever wondered what the hell they are doing with their lives could find well worth reading.
“Some people are different, and so are the rest of us.”
'When we got off the ship in Southampton in that allegedly mild January of 1962 I had nothing to declare at customs except goose-pimples under my white nylon drip-dry shirt.'
In the first volume of "Unreliable Memoirs," we said farewell to our hero as he set sail from Sydney Harbour, bound for London, fame and fortune. Finding the first of these proved relatively simple; the second two less so. Undaunted, Clive moved into a bed and breakfast in a Swiss Cottage where he practised the Twist, anticipated poetical masterpieces and worried about his wardrobe.