An Australian author, critic, broadcaster, poet and humorist who lived in Great Britain most of his adult life, James was born on this date in 1939 and broke into the writing world in the 1970s as a television critic for The Observer magazine. He gained a wide reading audience with his autobiographical series Unreliable Memoirs and his acclaimed book of biographical essays Cultural Amnesia - wonderful biographical sketches of 20th century figures.
James, who died in 2019, also published four novels and several books of poetry, including The Book of My Enemy, a volume that took its title from his earlier humorous poem "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered” (the term used in bookselling to put your books in the bargain basement bin).
Humor, he said, is an essential part of every writer’s arsenal. “Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.”
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