Synopses & Reviews
Critic, essayist and cultural savant A.A. Gill is probably the most widely read columnist in Britain. His books The Angry Island
and A.A. Gill is away
have found delighted fans in America as well, and sparked a loyal following.
His new book of travel essays, Previous Convictions, ranges from Gill's nearby domestic locales of Glastonbury and the English countryside to Haiti, Guatemala, Pakistan and exotic, dangerous, downtown Manhattan. In this collection of notes from the corners of the globe, and sometimes from the edge of sanity, he confesses about his travels far and wide, "The more I see of the world, the less I think I understand. Familiarity breeds even more astonishment. The world just gets wider and deeper and weirder."
These pieces are wickedly funny, sometimes pointedly -- even purposely -- critical of many cultures and traditions, and always edifying and enchanting. As an adventurer and as a writer, Gill never disappoints; while he may take others to task for their customs, habits, idiosyncrasies and plain bad taste, his own indefatigable curiosity keeps him going back again and again for more, and provides us with spectacular entertainment along the way.
"In this boisterous, profane and unfortunately lopsided travelogue, British author and columnist Gill (The Angry Island) unleashes caustic opinions from 32 spots, both 'Here' (the UK) and 'There' (everywhere else). From Haiti to Oman, Brazil to Vietnam, Gill's vivid, vigorous prose-especially in his uproarious verb choices-enchants and enthralls. The author's powers of description are also keen, transporting readers to the 'brilliant, benighted, argumentative, inspiring' Calcutta, as well as the 'stamped on, bitten, battered and clawed' post-war Baghdad. At times Gill becomes preachy ('Travel should question, not confirm'), and occasionally offensive ('What's in it for female suicide bombers? The promise of seventy adolescent virgin blokes?'), but he also educates from the less-traveled corners of the world (Pakistan, Sudan, Greenland and others), albeit with a guilty sense of awareness. As a whole, Gill is far more interesting when reporting from 'There,' demanding careful attention from an international audience; dispatches from 'Here,' though they may appeal to a British audience, don't quite measure up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The Angry Island: Hunting the English [is] acerbic and very funny...while I remain unsure I would like Mr. Gill if I met him, I enjoyed his takes on such English traits." -- James Srodes, The Washington Times
"[A] hilarious series of field notes...Mr. Gill's rants can produce a genuine high...The fun lies in wondering which next innocuous comment will cause him to blow his top." -- Richard B. Woodward, The New York Times
About the Author
A.A. Gill was born in Edinburgh, but has lived in London for most of his life. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, a critic and features writer for the Sunday Times (London), and the author of several books, including, most recently, Previous Convictions. He lives in London and spends much of his year traveling.
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