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Pour Me: A Life

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,274 ratings  ·  111 reviews
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: ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 12th 2015 by W&N
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  1,274 ratings  ·  111 reviews

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Amanda Brookfield
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For years I have enjoyed A. A. Gill's journalism, especially his TV criticism which, much to the annoyance of my family, I often used to read out loud, so eager was I to share his genius with a wider audience. His mastery of the English language, the ability to pick exactly the right words in order to illuminate an original, often complex and invariably overlooked insight, remains unparalleled. I flick through the TV crit these days, missing him every time.

Given such admiration, I was of course
Jo-Ann Duff (Duffy The Writer)
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
Mrs. Europaea
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed the honest, frank writing, I believe that the most traditional readers will tire of the long, wordy paragraphs before finishing this book.

Gill's memoir takes place after the end of his marriage which he describes in different accounts throughout the book. His writing is at times funny, sad, depressing, but always intuitive. He seems aware of his own problems and the chain of events that has lead him to where he is in life. Gill claims he lost years of memories while drinking
Apr 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The last time I read any AA Gill, I was a prepubescent leafing through my parent’s copy of The Sunday Times. I remember being impressed by the acerbity. Now, some 20 years later, the sheer acidity of his prose fails to cover his other stylistic woes. George Orwell, who Gill inexplicably claims to have had a “titanic crush” on at school, tells us, “good prose is like a windowpane” in his essay Why I Write. Gill describes, “glazed windows with curtains, behind which is painted a Home Counties ...more
Lisa Welch
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was given an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, which is part of why this review is hard to write. I did not like this book at all. When you read the book description, you anticipate the memoir of a man's battle with alcoholism and his journey to recovery. This book in actuality has very little to do with this. Rather, Gill goes on long and rambling tangents (with paragraphs that often take multiple pages), with a pretentious tone that has you needing a dictionary to ...more
Ben Gould
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was on my to-read list before the author's untimely passing, but I was finally pushed to do so afterwards. At a party just before Christmas, a friend remarked on how sad she felt when she learned of Gill's death, and what an amazing writer he was; another friend (a writer himself) expressed dissent, saying he didn't care much for his stylings at all.

Initially I was staggered, because for me Gill's mastery of the English language and the seeming effortlessness of his writing has always been
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Totally surprised by how much I loved this! I picked it initially because earlier this year I read and loved Sarah Hepola's excellent memoir Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget of drinking too much for too long, so I was open to something I thought would be similar. These are quite different in that Pour Me a Life starts out as being about Adrian Gill's alcoholism and turns out to be about so many other different things I couldn't even begin to describe them. I'm also glad that I ...more
This book could be the living example of purple prose. The amount of adjectives, anecdotes, metaphors, etc. that Gill uses to hammer home a single, simple point is mind-boggling. On top of that, much of the content of this book felt unnecessary - the reader is led to believe they will be taken on a journey with Gill to piece together the long stretch of his young adult life that he's lost to alcohol (he states he has no memories of this time). Instead, we are treated (?) to endless ramblings ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-stories
I think I probably chose to read this book because I had read that AA Gill had been married to Amber Rudd. I know; a strange reason to read a book but I think that people's choice of partner is quite revealing about themselves and this AA Gill book was all about his addictive life (alcohol mainly) and I thought that that was interesting. Having said that - AA Gill's alcoholic lifestyle was well before he met Ms Rudd. Did I like the book? I'm not really sure. AA Gill is dyslexic, profoundly ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reviewing AA Gill seems like some kind of blasphemy, with the weight of all the words he would have so aptly chosen hanging over my head. So I'll just say that this was a delight, and hilarious, and deliciously written, and you should read it.
Dean Lloyd
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wanted to give this book 3.5 stars because it is better than average but less than fantastic. I enjoyed the book in pieces but in parts I found it infuriatingly opaque. Obviously its a memoir, the author choosing which part of themselves to reveal. However, I find that the best memoirs are those that honestly expose the writer, revealing their authentic world. We never really get past the humour as a defence mechanism or the polysyllabic distractions. Something tells me that Gill never really ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This memoir was sad and, at times, overdetailed but Gill's writing is always superb and often very funny.
Near the end, he declares that he wants to spend the rest of his life highlighting the plight of refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean for a better life. Sadly, he only had one year left.
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good. Really funny, and beautifully written. Hilariously mean at times too, particularly about teachers. I'd heard of Gill but somehow knew almost nothing about him before reading this, so I'll be looking for more now.
Aidan Reid
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Witty. Had no idea the author passed away in 2016.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Sadly I was disappointed with this book. I found the wordy tangents all too frustrating and found after completing the book that I hadn't really learned anything much about Gill's life which felt too much of a shame. Each time there was a snippet of his life unearthed, off he went again into pages of unrelating word vomit that didn't seem to correlate all that much. I was so glad to finish it so I could start something else!
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lovely, especially eloquent memoir written by someone substantially further right than myself. But the writing is terribly funny at points (in the vein of early Clive James but more acid) and also, to my surprise, more profound and very, very moving. The list of good stuff in this book is very long, so I would recommend those on the left to dip their toe in, at least: the portrait of his sort of Withnail-like alcoholic art school life in the Seventies is sleazy and repulsive, but fascinating ...more
Dazzling. Brilliant. Infuriating. Reading AA Gill regularly evokes all of these feelings - but this book is especially personal, as it is his account of the wild drinking years of his twenties, managing the difficult balancing act of neither glamourising the destructive effects alcohol has on his life, nor ignoring the fun he enjoyed with it. This is so funny it will leave you crying with laughter, yet it is also heartbreaking and harshly real at other times.

This is lent greater poignancy, in
Jul 28, 2016 rated it did not like it
Personally, this was not a book for me. While insightful and honest, I had a very difficult time with the prose. It was wordy and although there were some beautifully written lines, much of it felt forced. I really enjoyed the more direct narrative of Gill's memories and experiences. However, there were many descriptors that instead of enriching the book made it feel cumbersome. This was not the immersive experience I was anticipating but I do praise Gill for sharing his story.
Katrina Gonsalves
Seems fitting that I finished this on Alex's Birthday. It's not your average recovery memoir. Very little about the drinking (he doesn't remember most of that time period), and much more about the the second chance of a sober life. There were some parts I enjoyed more than others, but always interesting and well written.
Aug 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pour Me a Life was not a good match for me. While I admire the author's honesty and willingness to share his story, I didn't care for the writing style overall. Parts were brilliant, but for the most part I found it to be very rambling and tedious.
Ian Lambert
Jan 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
He has an understandably fearsome reputation in some quarters but Gill is pleasingly selective, blisteringly honest, often surprising and frequently very funny. He can also write extremely well both because of and in spite of a serious impediment. An unusually rewarding read.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pour Me is short as memoirs go: just 241 pages. In part that's because, as Gill says early on in it, the alcoholism from which he suffered in his twenties meant that "there was no film in the camera" for those years, and that earlier memories were also dissolved: "childhood, school, holidays, friends ... all seemed to be faded and incomplete".

Incomplete, but not erased entirely: Pour Me does cover some of Gill's childhood, as well as the time between when he managed to stop drinking, aged 30,
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it

I loved A.A Gill's Table for Two column, and was gifted this by a friend. Having been familiar only with his restaurant reviews, it was a pleasant surprise to learn about his unusual life and career, which he presents in a witty and poignant manner. The parts on addiction were interesting but not gripping to me as some reviews had claimed, perhaps due in part to Gill's bemused tone in relaying some of it, in part because I've read a fair amount of stuff on addiction. I found myself least
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fav-alltime
Review also published as a guest post on

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
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
When I saw that food critic A.A. Gill had written a memoir about his alcoholism, I knew I wanted to read it. But what I found in the pages was so much more! Originally serialized in the magazine Esquire, Pour Me, a Life is a roller coaster of a memoir, with more more ups and downs, more honesty and brilliance than most memoirs can dream of.

He starts out talking about his alcoholism, the brutality of its symptoms as well as its mundane daily indignities. And this is not easy reading. Between his
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
For me, this represents a very strange relationship with a book. I added it to my "to-read" (I'm not sure how - probably after reading some Augustine Burroughs) and ended up receiving a copy as a gift.

I'm not sure if Gill and I have a lot in common - in terms of background, worldview, or - really - anything. But the book was written so simply and so clearly that I couldn't help but connect to the story and the life.

I saw another review that said a lot of people wouldn't get past the "wordy"
Phil Greaney
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this quickly, and on a whim, and quite liked it (that phrase not meant in a British way, which is damning, but more literally). I suppose I started to read it because I admired Gill's newspaper writing, especially on TV, and remembered seeing him once at the Hay Festival (where he spoke about - Bulgaria?) and because I was interested in the memoir of a drinker, pace Olivia Laing's work, and so on.

Anyway, there were some surprising moments, mostly about his love of art, and a flavor of
A fascinating insight into the life and mind of AA Gill, made even more poignant by his recent and sudden death (I was gutted).

I admit I had no idea about his early struggles with alcoholism, his dyslexia nor the angst of his brother who upped and disappeared almost 20 years ago (and is still missing).

I did find his writing style a little too complex and overly verbose, which made it hard going at times. But in amongst it all are witty turns of phrase or flashes of brilliant insight that leap
Catherine Burns
Ooh great I thought, this book combines my two guilty pleasures in book genre - addict made good AND random celebrity biography. I was disappointed. I felt short-changed on both fronts - not a great account of addiction (probably due to the fact he can remember very little of what happened during this period of his life) and the rest of it was a bit too much showing off his talent of remembering completely odd facts and going off on tangents relating to those facts. He does write extremely well ...more
Tadhg Coakley
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really interesting memoir.

One of the best narrations of alcoholism.

A difficult childhood and a difficult character. The language is amazing, especially considering his dyslexia. Almost too rich at times, it felt like I was on one of his acid trips.

Amazing descriptions of his childhood and time in boarding school. The description of a depraved Soho in the 60s and 70s was gripping.

It seemed rushed at the end, as he tripped through his journalism, especially his time as a war/famine
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