Surprised by how much I liked 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, about 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 stuck with it because it didn’t grab me at the beginning, so if anyone else has the same experience, keep reading. It gets so much better. Funny, honest, thoughtful, intelligent, strangely relatable – it ticks lots of important boxes that I think many readers look for, consciously or not, in a memoir.
More than his journey through and out of alcoholism, the memoir weaves in and out various phases of his life, including childhood, school, his experiences with dyslexia (fascinating take on this, I’ve never read anything about it before but his account of his experience and how it shaped his work was enlightening) jobs and careers, relationships and childbirth. I really couldn’t care less about accounts of people experiencing parenthood for the first time (or any time after, really) but his story and descriptions were so thoughtful and affecting, unlike anything on that topic I’d read before. I even loved that part of the book and that’s saying a lot. I would love to have a nonalcoholic beverage with him and ask his opinion on millions of things. I knew nothing about him before and I think it’s the mark of a pretty good memoir when an unknown author can draw you into their world and make you care about them without any prior knowledge.
It’s written with such an honest, witty sense of humor that makes his ideas and perceptions so much fun to read. He’s a little acerbic at times, but overall the bluntness and his introspection are in just the right amount.
Pour Me: A Life
by A.A. Gill
published September 27, 2016 by Blue Rider Press (Penguin)
originally published 2015
I received an advance ebook copy of the new edition from the publisher for review.