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Kevin Cryan
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Play All
« : 06.08.16 at 21:22 »
Quote

The Guardian
Saturday 6 August 2016 09.00 BST

Clive James loves to read, but nothing beats a box set binge. He salutes his greatest passions
 
Edited extract from Play All by Clive James

 
Play All by Clive James, published by Yale University Press on 20 August at £14.99.
 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #1: 08.08.16 at 08:00 »
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on 06.08.16 at 21:22, Kevin Cryan wrote:
The Guardian
Saturday 6 August 2016 09.00 BST

Clive James loves to read, but nothing beats a box set binge. He salutes his greatest passions
 
Edited extract from Play All by Clive James

 
Play All by Clive James, published by Yale University Press on 20 August at £14.99.
 
Kevin Cryan

BBC Radio 4
 
Saturday 06/08/2016
 
Saturday Review
 
(16 minutes into programme)
 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #2: 15.08.16 at 13:13 »
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The Observer
 
Andrew Anthony
Sunday 14 August 2016
 
Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James – review  
The veteran critic’s exploration of the recent golden age of US TV drama is an invigorating blend of wit and insight
 

Clive James: ‘He seems constantly interested, amused and engaged.’ Photograph: Chris Bourchier/Rex Shutterstock

Quote:
Everyone who has written television criticism since the 1970s, including this reviewer, has done so in the long shadow of Clive James. Writing his TV review for this newspaper from 1972 to 1982, he effectively turned a column into a genre, and did so with a wit and a learning unlikely to be equalled.
 
There’s an impulse to speak in the reflective language of the obituarist with James simply because, by his own reckoning and that of his doctors, he has been poised at life’s final credits for several years. Yet his various terminal ailments have not hindered his output either as a poet or a critic.
 
His latest – I won’t say last – collection is a joyfully intelligent appraisal of the major US series – the box sets – that have taken TV to previously unexplored heights over the past decade or two: among them The Sopranos, The Wire and The West Wing.
 
When James was busy 40 years ago making us think and laugh, usually at the same time, about the nature of TV, it was a conspicuously limited medium: three channels and much of it unmemorable.......

 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #3: 17.08.16 at 08:26 »
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(The leading English-language voice in the Middle East)
ARTS & LIFE
Book review: Clive James is boxing clever
 
Matthew Adams  
August 16, 2016

Writer and TV critic Clive James at his home in Cambridge, England. Chris Bourchier / REX / Shutterstock.
Quote:
Clive James is the great appreciator of our time. Over the course of his career – which first took flight when The Metropolitan Critic was published in 1974, and in which he has worked as a novelist, poet, columnist, television critic, broadcaster, essayist, autobiographer, travel writer and translator – he has arguably done more than any figure of his generation to transmit to the reader, the viewer, the listener, his enthusiasm for the arts.  
 
He has pursued this project at all cultural levels. The weighty novel, the satiric squib, the comic verse, the sedulously crafted lyric, the spine-tingling aria, the contagious pop song, the trashiest of trash television, the sweep and majesty of box set dramas – James treats them all with equal seriousness, equal care, equal love. And always he proceeds from the principle of enjoyment.  
 
Much of James’s own cultural enjoyment has come from television, and the record of this appreciation can in part be found in a series of wonderful pieces he wrote for the London Observer during his 10-year stint, from 1972 to 1982, as the paper’s TV critic. Since then, he has continued to engage with and lose himself in the offerings of the small screen, indulging in late-night reruns, VHS videos and, more recently, collections of DVDs. Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook is in part a consideration of these developments.....

 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #4: 20.08.16 at 10:30 »
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20/08/2016
 
Review: Clive James on TV box set heaven
 

Picture shows: l-r Detective William "Bunk" Moreland (Wendell Pierce) an Officer James "Jimmy" McNulty (Dominic West) (c) HBO
 
Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook  

Clive James  
 
Yale University Press £14.99  
 
Reviewed by Alan Taylor  
 
Quote:
IMAGINE you’ve just received an email from the Grim Reaper telling you it’s time to get your affairs in order and to make your way to the departure lounge. How best to spend your last few, sentient hours? In 2010 Clive James was diagnosed with leukaemia and informed that his days were numbered. His instinctive response was to read and reread, and write. Marooned in a book-lined flat he has been more productive of late than a hyperactive ant. He has completed a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, a commentary in verse on Proust, a rather wonderful collection of poetry and Last Readings, reflections on the writers and books that have been his constant companions through a life thirled to print.  
 
Now 76, he is still with us and showing no signs that he is about to leap aboard a plane to nowhere. In Play All, sub-titled A Bingewatcher’s Notebook, he turns his gaze on television, of which he was the best critic I have come across. Between 1972 and 1982, his column in the Observer was a plum pudding replete with one-liners that made one gasp at their audacity. My favourite was his description of the ice-skaters Torvill and Dean, dressed in gold costumes, which James likened to two packets of Benson and Hedges cigarettes dancing in a fridge.  
Since then television has changed almost beyond recognition, as has the manner in which we consume it. One such development is the box set which allows us to watch programmes as and when we want. Should we so choose we can spend whole days immersed in the likes of House of Cards and Band of Brothers, which some regard as a balm and others as a portent of civilisation’s imminent demise.  
 
Immobilised by illness, James is rapacious in his viewing and makes no excuses for it. “You might ask,” he writes, “how a man who spent his days  

 

 
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« Reply #5: 21.08.16 at 10:15 »
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Binge Watching with Clive James
 
WNYC  FM 93.9 FM*
Aug 18, 2016
 
*WNYC is the trademark, and a set of call letters shared by a pair of non-profit, noncommercial, public radio stations located in New York City. New York Public Radio formerly did business as WNYC RADIO until March 2013.Wikipedia
 
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« Reply #6: 21.08.16 at 13:47 »
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Clive James: Binge-watching TV saved my family.
 
Illness and infidelity changed his life - but the author says bingeing on box sets has helped heal the wounds

 

 
By Matthew Adams
 Sunday 21 August 2016    
 
Quote:
It is lunchtime in Cambridge on a warm day in July, and Clive James is boiling eggs. Don't let me forget these, he says as he welcomes me into his home, Because I will. The indignities of old age.
 
I am joining James in the closing stages of a professional life (he describes the period to me as his ) during which he has established himself as an essayist, autobiographer, novelist, poet, columnist, broadcaster, TV critic and, more recently, as a translator of Dante.
 
We intend to discuss his fascinating new book, Play All: a Bingewatcher's Notebook, in which he attempts to get to grips with the phenomenon of contemporary television and understand his deep love of the box set.
 
This is an enthusiasm James, now 76, has been indulging seriously since 2010, when complications arising from leukaemia nearly killed him, and left him too ill to do anything but read, write, watch television and, latterly, attempt to rebuild his relationships with his family.
 
Those relationships were shattered four years ago when news of a long affair reached his wife, Prue Shaw, a Dante scholar, and James was subsequently ejected from the family home.
 
The man I encounter is frail, gentle, warm and generous. His short-term memory is shaky. His voice, heavily aspirated, carries a sense of wistfulness and appreciation. He gives the impression of a figure who is preparing to take his leave of the world while enjoying it more intensely than ever.
 
We settle on a veranda that overlooks his small and neat back garden. I remind him about the eggs.....    

 
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« Reply #7: 22.08.16 at 14:45 »
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Binge-watcher's guide from the sharpest of wits
Television: Play All, Clive James, Yale University Press; hdbk, 160 pages, €16.99

Don’t believe the hype: Mad Men, starring Jon Hamm as Don Draper, is scolded by Clive James
Hilary A White
21/08/2016 |
Veteran television reviewer Clive James flexes his critical muscle in the direction of the ubiquitous box set, deftly mixing in low and high-brow references without breaking a sweat
 
Quote:
The water-cooler moments never went away, they just intensified. For my parents' generation, JR and his shooting in Dallas was the TV moment that gripped a whole generation across the western world and indeed beyond. For this current HBO generation, such axial scenes are now a weekly occurrence to be muttered feverishly over in the office on a Tuesday morning. Remember how the abrupt farewell of The Sopranos was debated? Heck, Game of Thrones has built a career out of periodically gunning down its various JRs.
 
For Clive James, the Australian writer, poet, wit and all-round linguistic polymath, the advent of the box set is a thing worthy of his sharp critical muscle, a skill that 30-something published titles and one leukaemia diagnosis later, has not been dulled one jot.
 
James was told the bad news in 2010 that he had a "polite but insidious" form of the cancer and was put on a course of Ibrutinib as part of his treatment (typically, he disarms the seriousness of the situation by likening the chemo drug's name to that of "the hero of one of those post-Conan movies starring some sack of sculpted tofu who will never be Arnold Schwarzenegger"). It birthed a rush of productivity in him - a book a year (poetry or non-fiction) has appeared since.
 
It also meant there was now rest time on the Cambridge resident's hands. And besides, modern technology had granted humanity the "play all" function, something undreamt of in those Dallas days. "Binge" is an anagram of "being", he urges us to consider. The practice of knocking off four or five episodes of The Wire is now an option for those "who have run so short of time that time no longer matters, and who are thus able to choose exactly what we want to see next".
 
There is much to discuss, as far as the award-winning Observer TV critic (1972-1982) is concerned…..

 
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« Reply #8: 22.08.16 at 18:36 »
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The way we weren’t: what “Mad Men” got wrong

 
It's tempting, but wrong, to think we are cleverer than previous generations  
 
by Clive James / August 15, 2016 /  
Published in September 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine  
 

Lawless excitement and a sexy buzz: the cast of Mad Men, which ran from 2007-15 ©Programme content and photograph/Mmx LionsGate Television INC. All Rights Reserved  

This is such a generous example or what you'll find between the covers of Play All: A Bingewatcher's Notebook that I'm not going to quote from it. I recommend that it be read whole..

 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #9: 23.08.16 at 09:48 »
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The New York Times
  Clive James as Latecomer, Finding Succor in Reruns
Books of The Times
By LOUIS BAYARDAUG. 22, 2016
 
Quote:
 
Clive JamesCredit Hazel Thompson for The New York Times
It’s not often that an author announces his obsolescence on his very own book cover, but with “Play All,” the redoubtable Clive James has found a title that neatly demarcates how late he is to the party.
 
Maybe it doesn’t matter so much that this slim collection of critical essays is built around the experience of binge-watching shows on a DVD player, a platform that bids fair to join the VCR and the eight-track in the techno-landfill. Maybe it doesn’t matter that the author treats the venerable boxed set as a recent development that requires “a new critical language” to make sense of its “onrush of creativity.”
 
Maybe the only thing that matters is that Mr. James, who reviewed television for The Observer back in the 1970s and remains an enduring entertainment fixture in his British homeland, seems just now to be getting around to series that entered (and, in a few cases, departed) the cultural conversation years ago.
 
So if you were wondering what the author really thinks about “Band of Brothers” (2001) or “NYPD Blue” (1993-2005) or “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” (2006-7) or “The Wire” (2002-8) — or, hell, “Shogun” (1980) — this is the volume to slake your curiosity. If you needed someone to explain to you that Frank Underwood, the antihero of “House of Cards,” owes something to Machiavelli; that “Mad Men” is “shorthand for Madison Avenue men”; that movie spectacles ask us to “switch off our brains”; and that modern television has exploded “the old idea of a single auteur,” then by all means hunker down.
.......

 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #10: 23.08.16 at 20:37 »
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And on BBC Radio 4:
 
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« Reply #11: 24.08.16 at 11:02 »
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Radio
 
Clive James on his lifelong love of television on TV Club
 

 
with Cassie McCullagh on RN
 
Wednesday 24th August
 
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« Reply #12: 25.08.16 at 19:29 »
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Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James – review
 
Clive’s got an eye for the ladies, says Ellen E Jones


Unexpected drug dealer: Mary-Louise Parker, left, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Weeds Rex Features

Ellen E Jones
Thursday 25 August 2016

Quote:

Nearly two years after predicting his own imminent demise, Clive James is not only still alive and kicking, but still publishing. Good. He may be “highly embarrassed” by this, but on the evidence of Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook, it’s a boon for the rest of us.
 
Like any serious writing on TV, this essay collection runs the risk of appearing superfluous. Many will seek out an expert’s view on, say, Mona Hatoum’s installations at the Tate, but no one feels unqualified to pontificate on last night’s Poldark. Yet even while the office water cooler runs dry through overuse, James’s writing remains thirst-quenchingly essential. As the Observer’s TV critic from 1972 to 1982, he played a key role in elevating the people’s art form to its current high status. If anyone has earned the right to pass off telly-watching as a hard day’s graft, he has.  
 
The authority shows. He convincingly demonstrates TV’s superiority by comparing The Sopranos with The Godfather, then dissects the bourbon-soaked heart of Mad Men with peerless precision. That James was a thinking participant in the era depicted is a clear advantage, but his mischievous wit also remains undiminished by the years. Mad Men’s Jon Hamm is “the actor with everything, except the sense to change his name” and on the stodgy prose of Game of Thrones creator George R R Martin, he writes: “I picked up one of his books and fell down shortly afterward, and I wasn’t even ill that day.” All that’s missing is an index of shows....


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Re: Play All
« Reply #13: 03.09.16 at 06:42 »
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The Washington Free Beacon
The Washington Free Beacon Wikipedia

 
Play On

Review: Clive James, ‘Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook’
 
BY: Aaron MacLean  
September 2, 2016 4:57 am
 
Quote:

Even if every last critical judgment in Clive James’ book about the new golden age of television were off the mark, the thing would still be worth reading for the humor. Nancy Marchand’s Livia Soprano, James writes, “ended up even scarier than Janice: something you would hesitate to say about Madame Mao.” Lena Headey’s Cersei is “Proust’s mother, who tormented him so much by willfully neglecting to climb the stairs to kiss him good night that he spent his entire life writing a long novel in revenge.” Steven Seagal’s brow is “creased with the effort of wondering how he came to put on weight despite his diet of Asian health food.” A little-known actor’s awkward beard makes him look “like D.H. Lawrence after an unsuccessful night with Frieda.” The only gift of Drea de Matteo’s Adriana, also of The Sopranos, “is for wondering why a fluttering of her eyelashes is not in itself sufficient to vacuum the carpets.”
 
In 20 years or so of adult reading, and even a few before that, there is no writer whose work I have taken more pleasure in than James’. That is in part due to the jokes, but also to the liberal and humane range (poetry, memoirs, novels, a translation) and to the fact that his critical judgments are so often right on the mark....

 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #14: 03.09.16 at 09:57 »
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Clive James: Why would anyone both adult and sane watch Game of Thrones?
By Clive James  
 
2 September 2016 • 6:37pm  
 
Read here or turn to page 151 of Play All: A Bingewatcher's Notebook by Clive James
 
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« Reply #15: 03.09.16 at 20:24 »
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Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook review: boxing clever  
 

 Seasoned TV critic Clive James’s appraisal of the box-set era is witty if conventional  
 

 

 
The Sopranos. Photograph Anne Liebowitz/Reuters  

 
Brian Dillon
Sat, Sep 3, 2016, 05:00
 
Quote:
From 1972 till 1982, Clive James wrote a weekly television column for The Observer: a newspaper that was then a wonder of smart and stylish journalism. Often he had two TVs on the go at once: “Elsewhere on earth, they were inventing the VCR machine, but too late to help me out.”
 
He had to transcribe rapidly all interesting dialogue and absurd commentary, training himself to a precise but oblique sort of visual scrutiny. Here was a critic who couldn’t take his eyes off Sue Ellen’s quivery lower lip in Dallas – “her mouth practically took off” – and could devote whole paragraphs to the extraordinarily subtle rise and fall of Alec Guinness’s eyebrows in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

James approached his reviews with the conviction that “popular entertainment is well worth doing”. But his writing went further: he already looked at television as if you could vanish inside it forever.
 
Six years ago James learned he had “a polite but insidious form of leukemia”. Time was running out, but time seemed oddly to expand: he took to binge-watching old episodes of NYPD Blue with his daughter Lucinda....


 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #16: 04.09.16 at 12:01 »
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|INSIDE STORY|
Every-night Clive  
 
 
Jane Goodall
27 August 2016

 
Television | Jane
Goodall goes binge-
watching with Clive
James

 
 

Enough to make Don Draper blush: Sidse Babett Knudsen as the “radiantly intelligent” Birgitte Nyborg in Borgen.

 
Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook
 
By Clive James | Yale University Press | $35.95
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
 
Quote:
Clive James has taken to prefacing his books with an update on his circumstances. He was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010 and told he had just a few years to live, so, determining that he might as well read – and write – till the lights went out, he moved with his books to premises in Cambridge that he refers to as “a library.” Since then, the terminal prognosis seems to have become a little hazier. A new drug has extended his lease of life and so he continues to fill his days with reading and writing, counting the bees, watching the goldfish in his daughter’s pond and walking the mile to town with “the right technique for wading through deep clay.”
 
Poet, philosopher and polymath, with an intellectual range that has swept through the works of Dante, Proust and Samuel Johnson, the major poems of Browning and several hundred of the best twentieth-century novels in the years since his diagnosis, Clive James is also something of a media junkie. He likes watching TV. A lot. For a couple of decades he liked being on it, until in 2000 he decided that the “Blaze of Obscurity,” as he put it, was getting to him. So he wrote a book about it, and retreated to more contemplative pursuits, though those did include regular contributions as a television critic for London’s Daily Telegraph.

His gifts as a humorist were his passport when he managed to infiltrate the inner circle of Private Eye editor Peter Cook in the early 1960s, and began to make his mark as a journalist who could execute the equivalent of a stand-up comedy routine on the page. As a television presenter, James’s style was like that of a virtuoso bowler on the cricket field. He’d set up a statement with an opening gambit, spin the cadence through several parentheses, and deliver the shot from an angle no one else would have found. His Postcard from London opens with a dry narrative voiceover: “A long time ago some hairy character painted blue slung the carcass of a recently slain stag, grunted ‘this is the spot’ and told his wife to build a house. Before she even finished pouring the mud floor, distant relatives were already arriving and since then, no one has ever gone home again except the Roman army and the German air force.”
 
Clive James the stand-up comic has a way of making reappearances in the writing of Clive James the contemplative. It’s as if the very texture of the prose gives him an entry. A sentence takes a particular turn, and you can actually hear the grain of the voice as it winds around to deliver the zinger. But the relationship between these two personae is a little uneasy. In Play All, a new collection of critical essays on “box set” television series, the comedic voice is muted: always there, as if trying to resurface, but only making it in brief forays. The mood spectrum of the later James just has too much melancholy in it to allow those improvisational tours de force to take shape....

 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #17: 07.09.16 at 20:33 »
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The Guardian
 
TV and radio books

Play All by Clive James review – how box sets saved us from reality TV and Hollywood  
James almost invented witty, intelligent writing about TV. He used to analyse Dallas but now turns his attention to Mad Men and Game of Thrones  

 
Joe Moran
 
Wednesday 7 September 2016 16.21 BST  
 

Jon Hamm, ‘the actor with everything, except the sense to change his name’, with January Jones in Mad Men. Photograph: Allstar/Lionsgate Television

Quote:

With this book – after a few decades spent making TV shows, writing poetry, cultural criticism and memoir, and translating DanteClive James returns to the field he made his own. From 1972 to 1982, on the back page of the Observer Review, he turned the witty television column into an art form. Indeed, his reviews were often more inventive than the programmes he wrote about, given his focus on the cheap US imports, light entertainment shows and soap operas that most viewers watched and most reviewers ignored. His style, smart as paint and full of esoteric references, but entranced by the stupid and the stupidly enjoyable, has been widely copied but never surpassed.
 
When James gave up writing about TV to appear on it more often, Dallas and Dynasty were in their pomp. Back then, he thought that Hill Street Blues was about as clever as American TV would ever get, and that “seriousness, sophistication, and the thrill of creativity could be supplied only by the older, wiser, more mature nations”. This book is about how wrong he was. For Hill Street Blues was the shape of things to come – one of the first in a long line of US serial dramas that dealt in subtle, many-layered narrative, and demanded intellectual and emotional commitment from viewers....

 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #18: 13.09.16 at 14:24 »
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Diary of a Binge-Watcher
 
In the ’80s, Clive James said TV would never be more than “mediocre.” Then, devouring endless hours of television changed his mind.
 
By Willa Paskin
 

Quote:

The culture critic, memoirist, poet, and public intellectual Clive James worked as a TV critic for the Observer from 1972 to 1982, writing erudite TV criticism at a time when that was about as common as erudite TV. In his final column, he proclaimed that American television was never going to be more than mediocre. Nearly three decades later James, an Australian who has lived in the U.K. since the early 1960s, was diagnosed with leukemia. Ill, medicated, and stuck on the couch, he did what most people do for far inferior reasons: He started binge-watching.
........

 

 
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Re: Play All
« Reply #19: 07.10.16 at 23:03 »
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Book Review | Nonfiction  
 
Clive James on the Joys of Binge-Watching
 
By JAMES PARKEROCT. 7, 2016
 
 
Quote:
PLAY ALL
A Bingewatcher’s Notebook
By Clive James
200 pp. Yale University Press. $25.
 
Dying man goes on “Sopranos” bender. That’s the premise, the high concept, for “Play All.” Clive James — critic, poet, novelist, scholar, galloping omnibrow — has been living with what he calls a “polite but insidious form of leukemia” since 2010, facing his predicament with merry stoicism and, as we now learn, a stack of DVD box sets. In 2014, assured that he was on the way out, he turned briefly Larkinesque and wrote a well-received poem called “Japanese Maple” in which he wondered if he would be gone before he’d seen his new maple tree in its autumn colors. Then he rallied unexpectedly, since which time his illness has carried on, he tells us in “Play All,” “happily refraining from being fatal.”
 
So the mise-en-scène of this book, a collection of linked essays, is this: Compromised but not immobilized by his condition, accompanied and abetted by his younger daughter, Lucinda (an older daughter, Claerwen, is also mentioned, but Lucinda is his soul’s true binge-­companion), James settles down to inhale as much of the latest high-end long-form TV drama as he can manage. “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” “Mad Men,” “The Wire.” .... And he can manage a lot: They binge grandly, passionately, he and Lucinda, outlasting the household, bug-eyed into the small hours.....



 
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