Lines in the Sand: Collected Journalism
|Author:||A. A. Gill|
|Author:||A. A. Gill|
A. A. Gill's writing: an embarrassment of riches. This selection of some of his recent pieces, spanning the last five years, sees him at his most perceptive, brilliant and funny. His subjects range from the controversial - fur - to the heartfelt - a fantastic crystallisation of what it means to be European. He tackles life drawing, designs his own tweed, considers boyhood through the prism of the Museum of Childhood and spends a day at Donald Trump's university. His award-winningly acerbic review of Morrissey's autobiography sits alongside the insight he brings to the work of Rudyard Kipling, Don McCullin and Lord Snowdon. And he turns that insight on himself in the terrific article 'Life at Sixty'. There are pieces from all corners of the world: from the tragic and terrifying Triangle of Death in the Congo to the dangers of the Mexican migrant journey. He has adventures with porcupine pluckers in Botswana and with Jeremy Clarkson on a canal boat in France. He forages for bush tucker in Australia and for high culture in Ravenna. He reports from the roof of the world in Bhutan, and the rather more earthbound drunk tanks of Humberside. He returns to his roots in Scotland, and sees New York through new eyes. He meets the stateless - the Muslim Rohingyas exiled from Burma, and the homeless in a moving and humane account of a shelter in King's Cross. But more than any other subject, a recurring theme emerges in the overwhelming story of our times: the refugee crisis. In the last few years A. A. Gill has written with compassion and anger about the refugees' story, giving us both its human face and its appalling context. He has travelled to Lampedusa to meet the Africans desperately trying to reach Europe, visited Syrian refugees in the Lebanon, met the migrants on the vast and dangerous journey from Kos through the Balkans, and witnessed the Jungle refugee camp in Calais. The resulting articles are journalism at its finest and fiercest.
Gill's broadsides, his impatience, his scathing penportraits were, it becomes particularly clear when you read his work en bloc, the byproduct of his desire that we should wriggle free of conformity, embrace pleasure, eat our fill -- Alex Clark GUARDIAN Lines in the Sand, a treat for his many fans, gathers the best of Gill's journalism from 2011 to 2016. Ranging from travel reportage to serio-comic appreciations of Savile Row tweed and the delights of condensed milk, the pieces are lit up by the author's trademark literary flourishes and waspish put-downs -- Ian Thomson EVENING STANDARD Serene, painfully wise ... glimpses of a loftier truth are the glory of Gill's essays, and they open metaphysical vistas in journalistic junkets or stunts contrived for the sake of a feature article ... His essays - so delicate in their connoisseurship of nature and culture, so tender in their sketches of family, friends and anonymous strangers in refugee camps, so brightly witty and yet so unexpectedly profound - affirm the manifold pleasures of being alive, which is why they enrich the life of anyone who reads them, and in Gill's absence will go on doing so -- Peter Conrad OBSERVER As Lines in the Sand, his final collection of journalism - published just a few weeks after his death from cancer, aged 62 - makes clear, Mr Gill's opinions actually held prejudice, piety and pretension to account ... Mr Gill's overriding message throughout these pieces is that experience should be gulped down, pleasure embraced, and conformity shunned ... "There's a basic human need to tell someone what we saw, where we've been," Mr Gill writes, and his dispatches - opinionated, experienced - are told with eloquence and elan, from war zones and home counties camp sites, to, finally, the cancer ward ... Elsewhere, he writes of Lord Snowdon: "His immensely sympathetic eye was often a surprise to people who knew only his waspish tongue." There could be no better epitaph for Mr Gill himself. -- Stuart Husband MR PORTER AA Gill was that rare writer, famously able to serve up waspishness and compassion in the same sentence. Both are on full display in Lines in the Sand ... Written with style and ubiquitous wit, this collection of essays is only further proof that Gill's voice will be sorely missed -- Laura Garmeson FINANCIAL TIMES