Assignments from Here and There
Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781416572497, 307pp.
Publication Date: June 2008
Critic, essayist and cultural savant A.A. Gill is probably the most widely read columnist in Britain. His books The Angry Island and A.A. Gill is away have found delighted fans in America as well, and sparked a loyal following.
His new book of travel essays, Previous Convictions, ranges from Gill's nearby domestic locales of Glastonbury and the English countryside to Haiti, Guatemala, Pakistan and exotic, dangerous, downtown Manhattan. In this collection of notes from the corners of the globe, and sometimes from the edge of sanity, he confesses about his travels far and wide, "The more I see of the world, the less I think I understand. Familiarity breeds even more astonishment. The world just gets wider and deeper and weirder."
These pieces are wickedly funny, sometimes pointedly -- even purposely -- critical of many cultures and traditions, and always edifying and enchanting. As an adventurer and as a writer, Gill never disappoints; while he may take others to task for their customs, habits, idiosyncrasies and plain bad taste, his own indefatigable curiosity keeps him going back again and again for more, and provides us with spectacular entertainment along the way.
"The Angry Island: Hunting the English [is] acerbic and very funny...while I remain unsure I would like Mr. Gill if I met him, I enjoyed his takes on such English traits." -- James Srodes, The Washington Times
"[A] hilarious series of field notes...Mr. Gill's rants can produce a genuine high...The fun lies in wondering which next innocuous comment will cause him to blow his top." -- Richard B. Woodward, The New York Times