An astounding and brilliant memoir, A. A. Gill's Pour Me a Life is a riveting meditation on the author's alcoholism, seen through the lens of the memories that remain and the transformative moments that saved him from a lifelong addiction and early death.
Best known for his hysterically funny and often scathing restaurant reviews for the London Sunday Times, journalist Adrian Gill writes about his near-fatal alcoholism in this extraordinary lucid memoir. By his early 20s, at London's prestigious Saint Martin's art school, Gill was entrenched in his addiction. He writes from the handful of memories that remain, of drunken conquests with anonymous women, of waking to morbid hallucinations, of emptying jacket pockets that "were like tiny crime scenes" helping him puzzle his whereabouts back together. Throughout his recollections, Gill traces his childhood, his early diagnosis of dyslexia, the deep sense of isolation when he was sent to boarding school at age 11 and the disappearance of his only brother, whom he has not seen for decades. When Gill was confronted at age 30 by a doctor who questioned his drinking, he answered honestly for the first time, not because he was ready to stop but because his body was too damaged to live much longer. Gill was admitted to a 30-day rehab center - then a rare and revolutionary concept in England - and has lived three decades of his life sober.
Written with clear-eyed honesty and empathy, Pour Me a Life is a haunting account of addiction, its exhilarating power and destructive force and is destined to be a classic of its kind.
"Gill's story holds up a mirror with which to evaluate one’s own ugly and beautiful jaunts through life. His is not a tale told with a clear beginning, middle, or end; it is, however, chock full of wit and humanity, and enhanced by Gill's striking gift for prose." (Publishers Weekly)
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AA Gill was British. Why did they use a narrator with an American accent? It was painful to listen to as so many words were mispronounced. Here's a shortlist. Maida Vale, Martin Amis, Edinburgh, anything ending in shire, Evelyn Waugh, PG Wodehouse. Sorry but it was dreadful. Just read it instead.
- jane levitz