Pour Me: A Life by A.A.Gill – A memoir of an alcoholic …
Writing this review has taken a long while to get round to! This book is one of my favourites of the year, but Christmas, and the end of the year, made me feel lethargic and I lost my blogging mojo for a while; it doesn’t help that I have to justify a review of a very wordy, intelligent, hysterically funny book about A.A.Gill’s years as an alcoholic, no pressure!
The book opens with A.A.Gill in a private mental institution after hitting rock bottom at the age of 30. He is told he is an alcoholic and won’t see Christmas if he doesn’t stop immediately. From there, he talks about the times he remembers and the vague recollections of apartments and memories of furniture he may, or may not, have owned Periods of time are jumbled, days and wives are lost forever in the bottom of a dirty, smeared glass and recollections of offending, upsetting and stealing from people are laid bare; there is no sugar coating, no ‘feel sorry for me’, or any shining moment of redemption to be found amongst these pages.
A.A.Gill is a middle class, pompous tw*t at times. He isn’t ashamed of being who he is, and it’s actually what makes this book an addictive read. Who doesn’t want to hear about the seedy hidden bars of London, of those drunks, eccentrics and lushes with money, education and everything they could need and want, yet still they screw it up? Who doesn’t want to hear the story of one of the world’s most renowned food and travel writers waking up after a bender, to find a pigeon alive and well in the inside pocket of his jacket; and that the pigeon lived on the end of his bed with his dog for a week?!
A.A.Gill in Sydney earlier this year
This book does catch a nerve here and there; I wince as I think of those nights where I’ve had one too many, and have woken with a fuzzy recollection and a tummy tight with guilt, but thankfully I am not on the spectrum of alcoholism that A.A.Gill was on. It’s wordy, it’s clever, it’s funny and the author is one hell of a storyteller. There is no preaching in this book. Just a VERY open telling of a sorry, funny, crazy, ruthless time of an intelligent man’s life.
5 out of 5 from me. One of my best books of 2015. Get it right now, right here
The Book Jacket
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 – driven to dry out, not out of a desire to change but mainly through weariness. He tells the truth – as far as he can remember it – about drinking and about what it is like to be drunk. Pour Me is about the black-outs, the collapse, the despair: ‘Pockets were a constant source of surprise – a lamb chop, a votive candle, earrings, notes written on paper and ripped from books,’ and even, once, a pigeon. ‘Morning pockets,’ he says, ‘were like tiny crime scenes.’
He recalls the lost days, lost friends, failed marriages … But there was also ‘an optimum inebriation, a time when it was all golden, when the drink and the pleasure made sense and were brilliant’. Sobriety regained, there are painterly descriptions of people and places, unforgettable musings about childhood and family, art and religion, friendships and fatherhood; 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.
Get it right now, right here