As Clive James shuffles around his home in Cambridge, England, it is his thousands of books lining the walls and piling up on tables and chairs that give him the “oxygen” to keep going. “For me, the book is still the thing,” he tells Inquirer in a new interview.
Despite being told he had terminal cancer five years ago, the celebrated expatriate Australian writer and broadcaster says he is “trying hard to make it through the winter”. His next book, Collected Poems, will be published in the English spring. “I want to be alive to see that book,” he says.
In September last year, The New Yorker published his poem Japanese Maple. James, 76, told a startled audience of devotees around the world that when the leaves on the maple tree in his garden turned to red in the autumn, it would surely be the end for him, too.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game …
Now, as summer has gone and autumn has arrived, James is embarrassed that his gloomy prediction has not been fulfilled.
“The poem flew together in the course of a few days, slowed down only by the richness of the material: it was hard to choose between the possible effects,” he says. “What happened next was the tricky bit. After it went viral .............................
Last Readings, by Clive James. Source: Supplied