Gill is that rare critic who actually has something relevant and profound to say about every place he visits. Highly...



Vanity Fair contributing editor Gill (The Angry Island: Hunting the English, 2007, etc.) returns with another stellar collection of dispatches from across the globe.

As he noted in A.A. Gill is Away (2005), when on assignment the author follows a few hard and fast rules: Don’t conduct research before traveling; don’t stay too long; don’t take notes. Fortunately for readers, Gill is blessed with a remarkable memory and a consistently engaging style of equal parts acid wit and tender poignancy. His latest collection is divided into two sections. The first includes travel writing about his native United Kingdom and other assorted critical essays. The highlight of this section is without a doubt “Golf,” the author’s tirade against the staid sport (“Golf is the standard bearer and pimp for the worst types of gratuitously wasteful capitalism and conspicuous consumption”) and his attempt to understand its appeal. Gill also offers pointed commentary on dogs, hunting, drama, photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (who he considers an “unequivocal, unarguable” genius) and the pitfalls of life-drawing class (“His haggis stomach rested on his thighs. Underneath drooped a penis of supreme ugliness, a Quasimodo todger, bent double, shouldering the weight of a voluminous, rucksack scrotum”). The second half of the book chronicles his far-flung travels, from the crushing poverty of Haiti to the “feathers and buttocks, the pantomime and the pumping rhythm” of Brazil. Gill also ponders his first trip into the South African bush country; the “inversion of noise, the ghost of sound” he finds in freezing Greenland; refugees in Sudan and Pakistan (“they have that faraway, defeated, listless look of the universal brotherhood of refugees, people tossed out by events”); the peculiar exercise regimens of Manhattanites; the buff, oiled-up homosexual haven of Mykonos (for the record, the author is straight); and the mechanical glitz of Las Vegas, “where irony just curls up and dies.”

Gill is that rare critic who actually has something relevant and profound to say about every place he visits. Highly recommended.

Pub Date: June 10, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-7249-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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