AA Gill is Away
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AA Gill is Away

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  229 ratings  ·  39 reviews
A. A. Gill is one of the most feared writers in London, noted--according to the New York Times--for his "rapier wit." Some even consider the mere assignment of a subject to Gill a hostile act. But when the notice "AA GILL IS AWAY" runs in the Sunday Times of London, the city can rest peacefully in the knowledge that the writer is off traveling.
"My editor asked me what I...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 17th 2005 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2002)
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Crystal
Mar 21, 2010 Crystal added it
Shelves: travel
This was a really assorted grab bag of travel essays. Apparently AA Gill is someone famous in his own country, and also apparently admired for being witty and intelligent, because his writing often oozes with his knowledge of that. That's not to say his writing is bad. Essays on the death of the Aral Sea, the "not famine" in Sudan, and a number of other areas were completely absolutely fascinating, partly because of their unusual subject matter, and partly due to the passion with which he writes...more
Tripp
There are some travel writers, like Rory Stewart of the Places in Between fame, who focus so little on themselves that they seem to vanish from the page. AA Gill is not one of those writers. His giant personality, opinion and humor threaten to crowd out whatever subject is at hand. When he is focused he can be quite acerbic, although generally in a witty manner. In AA Gill is Away, his takes on Japan (populated by aliens who are trying hard to look human) and Germany (the section is titled Hunfo...more
Caroline Barron
"You'll love AA Gill," said Jarrod, "because his travel writing zooms out to reflect on the greater human condition. It's like," said Jarrod, "he's leaving a how-to guide for his children after he's passed." Well holy sh**, that was it - get thee to the library - immediately. And that was how 'AA Gill is Away' ended up beside my bed.

Gill is a funny guy, but knows enough about how the world fits together to give broad historical, political insight into his subjects. I read somewhere he likes to "...more
Mitchell
This is another book I used to flick through during the endless tedious hours at my bookstore job. AA Gill is a British columnist, ostensibly a travel writer, but not the kind with a tagline at the end which says "the writer was a guest of X Travel." Gill is as much a political and social writer as he is a travel writer, and this compendium of his columns for the Sunday Times ranges across topics from a Sudanese famine to the California pornography industry to one of the worst environmental disa...more
Michelle
"Mad in Japan." Fantastic.
Brooke
A refreshing glimpse into the most unexpected adventures and the mind of risible critic.

About his methodology- " I trust my memory to filter out what's important. I talk about where I've been as much as possible. the act of turning it into stories, descriptions and anecdotes and having to repeat them, watching people react, begins to form an armature for the piece."

About Haile Selassie- "All his life he seems to have had only one impervious sarcophagal expression, a granite stare that glares at...more
Fiona
Aug 06, 2013 Fiona rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Fiona by: no-one
At the beginning of this book Gill describes his halting beginnings in journalism, troubled, as he is, by dyslexia. Gill claims that as he matured and settled into his writing, opinions and outlook, any lingering concerns about dyslexia were transferred to those who engage with him and his work. He expropriated the condition and its stigma, and in the process, freed himself.

Gill's work is intrinsically personal, he constructs beautifully astute observations about places. This is, after all, tra...more
Steve McCoy
This one is a really good counterpoint to the Thompson book. Gill, like Thompson, aims for a half-serious, half-comedic tone with some literary merit to his writing. Gill, unlike Thompson, succeeds. This is a really terrific collection of travel stories that are subdivided into loose geographic groups. The pieces alternate between being very funny and quite sad, often within the space of a few pages. Gill is adept at setting up the reader with a laundry list of complaints followed by a truly red...more
Martin Budd
A truly ferocious talent, he crafts words like fine needle sharp stiletto's, a truly astonishing read. This is one of the few books I have ever read where I have experienced such a breathtaking range of emotion from laugh out loud to heart ache. He has a savant's awareness of human nature it is as if he is aware of your thoughts.....Profound.
Micha
A.A. Gill is a rhetorician, not a deep thinker, but is nonetheless a hilarious motherfucker. He usually writes about food for the Sunday Times, but this one is about travel. Takes controversial positions to be inflammatory. Skewers German, English and especially Japanese culture ("If Japan were a person, you wouldn't laugh at it, you'd smile pityingly at its parents and whisper that you're sure they can do wonderful things with medication these days. If Japan were a person, it wouldn't be allowe...more
Roniq
Mar 21, 2008 Roniq rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those into travel essays, rapid fire descriptions and in your face journalism
Recommended to Roniq by: loaned to me from a friend.
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book!! If you like stories of travel Adventure that make you cringe, this is the book for you. Most people wouldn't venture to half the places A.A has been. Ballsy is all I can say. Truly gifted writer with a unique insight to such places as L.A, Where he makes a porn film. He also writes of India, Russia, Sudan and Cuba to name a few. I laughed out loud many times reading this in addition to feeling sick at times. An in your face, shockingly original and honest look through the eye...more
Larissa Archer
my favorite living writer, and the one who does my job the way I would like to.
Erin
at the top tier of all travel writing i've ever encountered...there are no sacred cows (watch out, japan!) and gill takes no prisoners. i've read his columns in vanity fair before and these are as funny as those, but reading a collection of them together i found myself marveling that he can come away from a trip abroad with a totally cynical and sometimes even angry view of humanity and the world's backwaters, but still be fired up to head off somewhere else. the man is like the charlie brown of...more
Greg D'Avis
Surprised by how much I liked this -- my only knowledge of Gill was his article about Albania that got him in some trouble. This is far more serious and thoughtful than I expected, with a very sharp writing style. Oddly, the least interesting pieces are those closest to his home -- the British Isles pieces were pretty light. Other than that? Very good.
Tara Callaway
So I have to admit I didn't read the entire book. It is made up of stories about this guys travel. I did start at the beginning until I decided to read about a place I had been to, so I skipped ahead to Berlin. I got really ticked off and completely disagreed with his take on Berlin. He couldn't recover after that so I put the book down.
Will Marshall
Whilst the personality is overly egotistical, and the point of view increasingly predictable throughout the book, AA Gill is arguably one of the best crafter of phrases and similar word-smithery writing in England today, conjuring the most vibrant of images, "war memorials cast from boiled cannons" being only an example of this.
Susan
We are given fair warning in the introduction that there are many regional terms in the book and references to British culture that may not make sense to everyone. That proved more true than I'd expected. Either way, I appreciate Gill's perspectives, love his travel methodology and will look for more that he has written.
Mark Field
Some interesting writing here, but overall I wasn't grabbed by it. Gill's caustic wit sometimes gets the better of him with his opinions, but then again, its his personal take on things. One thing I would have liked was the date / place of publication for the pieces included - more hopeful as this book ages.
Kirsty
Smart, caustic, laugh out loud, snort through my nose then sneer! Loved it! Wish it were in print in the US so I could give a copy to all of my friends who love to travel. I'm not anxious to read more of aa gill for fear that my love of this book will be tainted. Thanks mum for giving me your copy.
Rebecca
Another case of starting off liking AA's acerbic style, then losing track halfway through the book. Didn't get irritated this time, it's just that being journalistic pieces with beginnings and ends I dipped in and out and then got stuck into another novel halfway through.
Irynababich
Cleverly written, provides insite to life in about twelve countries. Unlike many books about travel, this one seems to go beyond what's on the surface. I also enjoyed the style (although that might be partly thanks to the translator - I read the book in Russian)
Jill Lloyd
Not only is this book great because of AA Gill's dry whit, but it also has the great advantage of being written as a series of short stories so one minute he's in Iceland with Miss World and the next he's off in "the worst place on earth".
Jane Kozmina
It's not polite, it's not tactful, it's not politically correct...
But because of it this book is really touching and funny and cynical and - what else you want to hear? In my opinion it's "highly recommended to read".
George Masora
Yet another well-written and engaging read by A.A. Gill. As travel reads go, A.A Gill is Away is as good as they come. Excellent prose, as you'd expect from this author, and all in all, a well curated book.
Sherbert
3.5 stars...really liked it and learned a lot, but some of his opinions views are simply MADDENING and so hypocritical. Still, eye-opening and honest reflections make it a worthwhile read.
Joanna
Awesome travel writing that transcends the genre. Dense, fascinating and often funny stories from an informed and opinionated observer with a compelling sense of history and biting wit.
Alex
More often than not, I agree with A A Gill's opinions. Sometimes I violently disagree with him. Either way, it's always entertaining reading him. This is a great book.
April Fleming
Really outstanding travel writing. A.A. Gill travels all from the most impoverished of places to a porn set, and intelligently and wryly reports back what he finds.
Sean
Jan 17, 2008 Sean rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like places
Recommended to Sean by: Caroline
This guy is awesome! A tv and food critic from the London Times who travels amazing places with a fresh eye. You just want to be able to see the world as he does.
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