'I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment, that did not affect me.' In the first instalment of Clive James's memoirs, we meet the young Clive, dressed in short trousers, and wrestling with the demands of school, various relatives and the occasional snake, in the suburbs of post-war Sydney.
Many years ago I remember being given this book for my birthday with the comment "thought you might like this, he's the sort of droll smart-arse commentator that should appeal to you". The presenter of this present knew me well, although I think that they did a massive disservice to Clive James.
The first of a series of books he's subsequently written as memoir there is nobody in these books that James picks on more than himself. He has a wonderful, dry way of commenting on the obvious, of drawing out the reality of the comedy of life.
Everytime I read anything written by Clive James I'm reminded of the beauty of sparsity, of the power of the gaps between the lines. I'm also reminded that this is the first of a series of novels and James could be seen to be holding back a little. Really looking forward to reading the next of the series now.