Pour Me: A Life
|Author:||A. A. Gill|
'A. A. Gill, the man who makes a living getting beneath the skin of things, whether it's television, restaurants or places round the world - has skinned himself' Vanity Fair A. A. Gill's memoir begins in the dark of a dormitory with six strangers. He is an alcoholic, dying in the last-chance saloon. He tells the truth - as far as he can remember it - about drinking and about what it is like to be drunk. He recalls the lost days, lost friends, failed marriages ...But there was also an 'optimum inebriation, a time when it was all golden'. Sobriety regained, there are painterly descriptions of people and places, unforgettable musings about childhood and family, art and religion; and most, movingly, the connections between his cooking, dyslexia and his missing brother. Full of raw and unvarnished truths, exquisitely written throughout, Pour Me is about lost time and self-discovery. Lacerating, unflinching, uplifting, it is a classic about drunken abandon.
His mind, officially measured as off the Mensa scale, is an object of wonder. But it swivels everywhere like a dropped high-pressure hosepipe ... Gill is explosive. God knows what a frightening thing he must have been in drink. He is bad enough as a dry drunk, the kind of sober person who gets thrown out of restaurants (in his case, Gordon Ramsay's). But the end of the book dwells on a recently evolved philanthropic side to Gill's character. He has become very anxious about the world. He travels to awful places, eloquently and genuinely compassionate with the suffering he witnesses there ... One deduces that he has transcended his suffering but he now has a hypersensitive sympathy with the suffering of others. A A Gill is 61, 30 years sober and surviving. Those who admire him (and I am one) will not merely read him over the years to come but follow him wherever he is now going. It will, one guesses, be an interesting journey -- John Sutherland NEW STATESMAN A.A. Gill, the man who makes a living getting beneath the skin of things, whether it's television, restaurants or places round the world-has skinned himself ... The funny, curious, sad and often sodden stories are told using combinations of words and ideas that shouldn't be friends, but hold hands at the behest of Gill, like a circus master with a comma for a whip. This is a book full of darkness, laughs and dark laughs. Personal truths by a man whose love of language is ultimately the protagonist VANITY FAIR 'The A List' [Gill] writes passionately and movingly about his struggle with dyslexia; disarmingly and defensively about his lifelong feelings of intellectual insecurity; evocatively about his relationships with his parents and the disappearance of his brother... stirringly about his love of journalism... It might not all be beautiful; it might not all be true. But that does little to diminish the pleasure to be found in its story -- Matthew Adams THE INDEPENDENT Fluent, cocky and dense with gags ... he is a brilliant raconteur, and a gifted satirist of place and person. He is also, perhaps through a history of AA meetings (those initials are well chosen), unafraid to take risks of self-exposure. The baroque debauchery of his drinking days gives way to frank and often moving examinations of his growing up ... his loves and lusts and marriages, and his own efforts at fatherhood: the role that has done most to keep him sober -- Tim Adams THE OBSERVER As readers of Gill's journalism will expect, Pour Me is alert, emphatic, mordant, unforgiving. It is often moving, but never tries to be likeable. Honesty about alcoholism is not its chief attraction. It is a full-blooded retrospective by a man aged 61, who has travelled in remote and dangerous places, and has considered most human possibilities. He apologises for his book being insufficiently amusing ("it's about me, and I'm not really funny"), but his gallows comedy gives a hefty kick, many sections are beautifully droll, and some scenes are hilarious -- Richard Davenport-Hines THE SUNDAY TIMES Pour Me, Gill's sweet-sour memoir of his drinking days and subsequent reform... is a delight. In pages of well-turned anecdote, Gill chronicles a rackety life made good. The book is nicely designed, moreover, and I liked the discussions of, among other things, the difficulties of parenting and marriage in late middle age -- Ian Thomson THE SPECTATOR In this chilling, exquisitely moving book, Gill defines the seductive, addictive and destructive power of drink ... Gill's trademark is slamming the truth down hard on the page. It is his honesty that accounts for the intensity of this haunting memoir ... and although he says this is not a funny book, it is ... there are meditative passages of beauty here ... A book that began by discussing lost time becomes one of recovered time, of a new way of life that is worth not only living but also celebrating -- Juliet Nicolson DAILY TELEGRAPH Pour Me by the jounalist A.A. Gill is a sour-sweet memoir of his alcoholism and its attendant woes. Gill's early years of drinking brought only a squalid self-denial and low self-esteem; liquor had got him well and truly licked. Often funny, the book is dedicated to the "friends of Bill", after the Bill Wilson who, in 1935, co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous THE TABLET