Book Review: Pour Me. A Life by A.A. Gill

Everyone has a type of book they would not touch with a ten-foot pole. For some these are self-help books, for some they are Science Fiction, and for some they might be those love stories you can buy at the gas station. For me, it is autobiographies.

The way I see it, there are several things that could (and quite often do) go wrong. The author could have lead a boring life. They might be bad storytellers. Their writing might lack personality (this is especially terrible with comedians who are not as funny on the page as they are on the stage). Beyond all of that, my worst fear is always that I might not like the author anymore once I've read all the thoughts they wished to share. I am slightly less worried when it comes to columnists - they write whatever they think anyway, and so it seems like a relatively safe choice.

For me, AA Gill is the safest choice there is. His columns have always made me at least think or smile, if not laugh or cry or become outraged. 'Pour Me' talks about his journey into and back out of alcoholism, and it covers the broader themes of his life in the process.

There is writing, which he fell into only in his thirties, there is travel, and how he discovered the joy of reporting from distant places, there is art, which he abandoned for writing, there is sex and there is food, which appear to be equally important and meaningful, there is his dyslexia, which caused him to dictate his columns, there are many, many drinks - and there is his outlook on humanity, in the people he meets, in the things he observes, in the conclusions he draws.

If you've never read anything by AA Gill, this book might be a jarring read. He draws upon metaphors that present a dramatic shift in tone, he writes as though he is talking, he is a walking lexicon and does not hide his wide vocabulary, and he sometimes meanders in and out of the topic he is going on about at any given moment. It takes a little while to get used to it, but being the storyteller that he is, he makes sure that no random insert is ever truly random.

That being said, this also makes this book a rather long read. It took me about ten months It need not be so long for you, but as I would with a collection of columns, I would advise against trying to read it in one go.

'Pour Me' has become one of my all-time favourite books, even though this high praise may only stem from my love for the author, and is still no indicator of my feelings toward autobiographies.

I would recommend it to anyone, but I would caution the target demographic: This book was marketed as a support for people wanting to get sober, and I am sure that this not remotely true. It might help to read the related chapters, just to see someone else going through the same things, but AA Gill has even stated in interviews that he has no interest in how someone becomes an alcoholic, and there is no detailed description of his therapy either. If you want to read about that, look somewhere else. For everyone else though, I can only recommend reading it, and then tryng to live a life even half as full as his. Hopefully filled with less drinks though.

Pour Me: A Life by A.A. Gill
Published:2016 by W [and] N
Pages: 256

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