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AA Gill is Away Paperback – October 17, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (October 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743276671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743276672
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,254,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Imagine Evelyn Waugh reborn as one of Nick Hornby's endearingly superficial protagonists, and you have London's Sunday Times television and restaurant critic Gill: droll, astute, irritable, irritating and always cleaver-sharp. Moving from Hiroshima to Kyoto, Gill carps about the Japanese, with their ways that differ greatly from Gill's own, being "the people that aliens might be if they'd learnt Human by correspondence course and wanted to slip in unnoticed." He barnstorms through Ethiopia, Russia, Argentina and elsewhere before heading home to England. The anthology of travel essays opens with arguably Gill's finest section—on Sudan, whose current horrors make his root-cause impressions from 1998 required reading—arguing how even those who care about mass suffering are "protected by the one-way mirror of news." In Los Angeles, he makes a porn film: life on the set teaches him argot like "kung fu death grip" and some unusual uses for pineapples. Compilations inevitably draw episodes against one another, and this one is no different. Yet it maintains a high batting average from start to finish. Gill's aim isn't always on (only a Brit would search for authentic barbecue in California), but usually it's his bald foreignness that makes him such a skilled marksman. That, and the fact that he himself is such an original.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A self-described "mongrel Scot"--part English, part Indian, born in Edinburgh--Gill has here collected 21 essays (dating from 1995 to 2001), presumably from his work as a columnist for the Sunday Times of London, "AA Gill Is Away" being the notice the paper runs when Gill is out on assignment. His interests are omnivorous and take him places as diverse as Sudan, India, Cuba, Bethlehem, Japan, and even the San Fernando Valley, where the author helped create a porn film. Gill can be mischievously funny, as when he describes Westerners who do yoga in India as exercise, "which is a bit like walking the Stations of the Cross as aerobics." Yet he can write with the most penetrating tenderness and humility, as when he shares his visit to the most destitute part of Sudan: "It is not staring at the face of starvation that thuds like a blow to your heart, it is having starvation stare back at you." This is not conventional travel writing--not that of the newspaper travel section, or even that of such classic writers as Simon Winchester, Pico Iyer, and Jan Morris (see By the Seat of My Pants, reviewed on p.24). It somehow feels more interactive, riskier, and more enduring. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
5 star
67%
4 star
13%
3 star
0%
2 star
0%
1 star
20%
See all 15 customer reviews
I read this book in one sitting.
Amazon Customer
In "The Angry Island" he is, very, very, very angry, caustic, mean spirited, uppity, and with a whole arsenal of axes to grind.
Melinda Burnett
Thank you AA Gill, for your incisive, insightful, intrepid, intelligent and incredibly beautiful writing.
Book Fiend

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brian Wallace (Co-author of It's Not Your Hair) on September 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This sorely underappreciated book needs to be read. This guy is one of the funniest and most illuminating writers around, worthy of the highest esteem.
Fresh, intelligent and exciting work.
His piercing, amusing perspectives stimulate emotions the way writing is intended to.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T. Doherty on February 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
I was recently on a business trip to seattle and ended up at a bookstore with a large wall of recommended books. I was just finishing A Walk in the Woods, the first "travel" book I had read. It was so good, I caught the bug and set off to find other travel writers with irreverent styles and sharp wit and I found AA Gill. The book is geniously designed, concise, and well-written. I had not heard of AA Gill before and so these newspaper columns were all new to me and I picked through them one at a time glimpsing places from around the world like postcards. There is a - how to use this book - segment at the start following the foreward. I studied fiction writing for two years in graduate school and wish greatly that someone, anyone, would have assigned this book to me or at least recommended it. The how to use portion of the book holds secrets and insights into writing that some people might never discover but that any reader upon picking up this book can hold within a few minutes. Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
I generally like travel essays. Unfortunately, this is perhaps one of the sparsest sections of the bookstore (especially once you remove the volumes written by Americans pretending to be expats in Italy).

I read this book in one sitting. I read fast, but even so that's not all that common, and is normally something I can say only about an excellent novel. I was sorry for this book to end.

What is presented in this book is a set of travel essays which range in subject from the Sudan to California, Monaco to the British Army's Sniper school. The author's style is as readable as Bryson or Cahill. The author is a bit pretentious (as noted by other Amazon reviewers) in his forward and in his introductory sections for the broad categories of his pieces (North, South, East, and West), but that pretention does not tend to flow into the columns themselves. Gill is perhaps the travel writer for the rest of us, who suggests that you should go see the Taj Mahal, or Havanna, even if it's been done to death because the places are worth going to, even though they are popular. (Reworded then, that they are correctly identified as places worth going to, and that is why they are popular.)

I hope Mr. Gill continues his travels, and that another volume may be published some day.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Giles Gammage on January 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
The cover is black. Matte, ominous, "2001" monolith black, the title spelled out in stark white letters. It's a collection of travel writing, but no clues for guessing that when AA Gill is away, he's not sunning his backside in St. Tropez or picking sunflowers in Andalusia (or if he is, he has to good sense not to tell anyone). It's not just the cover that's black and white: Mr Gill takes us to some of humanity's darkest hellholes, but also shines a light in some surprising places. He veers between apoplectic rage and childish glee, but his writing always sears like a quicklime shower. This is travel writing like you've never seen before. Ladies and gentlemen, AA Gill is the new black.

The AA Gill of the title is Adrian Anthony Gill, restaurant and TV critic for the UK's Sunday Times newspaper, travel writer and contributor to magazines such as Vanity Fair and GQ. The key word there is "critic", and Mr Gill has scribbled himself a very profitable byline in being an outrageously, provocatively opinionated ass about most things. In the course of his literary career he has managed to give offense to--in order of decreasing plausibility--animal-lovers, the Germans, the Albanians, and the Welsh. Irritatingly, he also happens to be a very, very talented ass. Mr Gill is the master to the unexpected metaphor and vivid visual imagery, each page hitting you like a psychedelic thunderstorm.

He's also one of the few writers this side of Edgar Allan Poe who appears aware that English is a spoken language, not just a written one. Try reading it out loud, "chuckling children being bathed in tin buckets ... gaggling women at the wheezing water pump filling the first of interminable four-gallon plastic cans", and you realize there's more to Mr Gill than foreigner-baiting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John A. Blackley on November 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
For those familiar with Gill's writing in GQ and The Times, this book will be a pleasure anticipated and delivered.

For those not familiar with Gill's writing but in search of the modern, English-language essayist this book is an introduction to an artist in the genre. Gill's peripatetic life is documented here and, while he often loves the places he visits, he's at his best when exasperated and furious.

Despite all of that, Gill loves the people he meets (although he'd deny it vehemently) and it comes through in his writing.

A vivid collection of memories from places I'll never visit but which now seem as real to me as my own backyard.
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By Helen on March 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whatever he writes - read it. Some may be scathing, some may be extremely opinionated but all will be insightful, interesting, astonishing and directional - as you will have to visit any if these places. Often hysterical. Lyrical prose with absolute bite. I will read anything he's written and wish I could get his columns too! London, the world ( incl America), food and restaurants will never be viewed the same.
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