A.A. Gill was born in Edinburgh. He is the author of two novels, Sap Rising (1997) and Starcrossed (1999), books on two of London's most famous restaurants, The Ivy and Le Caprice. He is also the author A.A. Gill is Away, The Angry Island, Previous Convictions, Table Talk and, most recently, Paper View. He is the TV and restaurant critic for the Sunday Times. He lives in London and spends much of his year travelling.
April 2012 Travel Book of the Month. As an eclectic a collection of travel pieces as you could wish – and the impressionistic style suits the subject material like hand to glove. Read my favourite of all his pieces on Albania and in 9 pages A A Gill has painted a vivid picture of Albania, its people and history. This is not a see-everything, do-everything travel collection but Gill will tell you far more in 2 pages than you’d think possible making this book’s 288 pages go by in a flash. A A Gill fans will go for the name but the cover depicting him in Arctic gear looking like Ranulph Fiennes’ younger brother does little to hint at the diversity and colour to be found in this collection. Like for Like ReadingThe Discovery of France, Graham RobbPanther Soup: A European Journey in War & Peace, John Gimlette
Think `grand cafe' and the image that immediately springs to mind is a decadent, smoke-filled place populated by coffee-drinking thinkers, writers and artists in 1930s Europe. Along with the brasserie, the grand cafe combines an opulent setting exclusively for the everyman. Zedel is such a place. Housed in a 1915 hotel off London's Piccadilly Circus, it was restored to its former grandeur and re-opened in 2012 with all the charm and distinction of Art Deco Paris. In this book, A. A. Gill explores the origins of the grand cafe and pays homage to the character of Zedel. Much more than just a restaurant, Zedel houses a bustling cafe leading to a sweeping marble staircase, at the bottom of which are the Crazy Coqs cabaret, the Bar American cocktail bar, and the magnificent brasserie itself. Forty iconic brasserie recipes are included in the book, such as Soupe a l'oignon, Moules marinieres, Boeuf bourgignon, Profiteroles and Tarte au citron. Period photography and artwork help to capture the mood of this remarkable and fascinating venue.
Buchan Gardens is a sedate square in West London. Charles Goodwin, the garden committee president, would like the garden to stay just the way it is. Lord Vernon of Barnstable, the appalling life peer, has plans for the garden. Bryony Mullins, the gusset-mouthed harridan, doesn't give a flying knicker elastic what happens to the garden as long as it's not what Vernon wants. Angel Tenby, the sexually organic gardener, wants the garden to run free. Mrs Kotzen, the neighbour, wants the garden to be chic. The vicar wants the garden to be accessible and relevant. Lily Ng, the teenage daily, would probably think the garden silly if she thought about it at all; she wants to offer sex in lieu of ironing. Mona Corinth, the Hollywood legend, is dead and may be about to become part of the garden. Iona Wallace is the obligatory love interest. She would like to be a garden: laid, forked, plucked, seeded, mulched, vigorously pollarded, bedded and admired for her natural beauty. The garden wants absolutely nothing at all. Sap Rising may well be a story about dark dank nature both human and vegetable and our uneasy relationship with the mystic natural forces that move the earth. It may be a parable on the fragile consensus that maintains and tends green England. On the other hand, it might just be a farcical love story set in a garden about nothing of any consequence performed by comic grotesques with a lot of swearing and unnatural sex.