IN TO AMERICA WITH LOVE, celebrated British provocateur and Vanity Fair colum-nist A. Read more...
IN TO AMERICA WITH LOVE, celebrated British provocateur and Vanity Fair colum-nist A. A. Gill traverses the Atlantic to become the freshest chronicler of American identity in recent memory. With a fiery temper, a sharp-tongued wit, and an insatiable curiosity to figure out what makes more than 300 million of the world's population tick, Gill traces the history and logic of our nation's habits, collecting wild stories and startling facts along the way. From Colorado, where he meets a local vegeta-tion expert and learns which flowers were in Poca-hontas's nuptial bouquet, to Kentucky, where he visits the Creationist Museum and drinks moonshine with a hog farmer, and to Harlem, where he misses a turn and stumbles into the wrong barbershop for a once-in-a-lifetime haircut, Gill embarks on a tour of not only the nation's landscape but also its psyche, playing adventurer, philosopher, statistician, and raconteur all at once. In inimitable fashion he explains why pressing a button in a Manhattan elevator means entering a social contract of American etiquette and inverting conventional hierarchies of space; why browsing through Playboy centerfolds becomes the perfect litmus test for a generation's political views; and how Hollywood is the metaphysical marketplace for movies, the place where Americans are sold on American romance and taught how to dream the American dream.
Weaving together a tapestry of historical erudition and outrageous anecdotes, Gill ultimately captures the scope and spirit of a nation that started off as a conceptual experiment and became a political, sci-entific, and cultural fortress. This humorous and revelatory book shows us why we are who we are by transforming ordinary experiences into extraordinary lessons and promising to never let us look in the mirror the same way again.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-05-27
- Reviewer: Staff
A fine comparison between American “swivel-eyed,” plainspoken audacity and Old World “inertia and precedent” veers into a witty, albeit gushing tribute in the hands of Scottish-born Vanity Fair contributing editor Gill (A.A. Gill Is Further Away). Mostly a resident of London but a frequent visitor to America, Gill has apparently evolved into a rather admiring apologist for many of the eccentricities of his home away from home. He devotes his stylistically jaunty essays to defending the country’s earnest belief in government by the people, as well as its brashness of character, frank celebration of success, sublime sense of nature, and childish delight in speechifying and hucksterism, among other things. While some Europeans pooh-pooh Americans for being ignorant and unintellectual, Gill celebrates the latter’s refreshing lack of cynicism, reminding his blasé, sour-grapes colleagues back in the Old World that many of their “brightest and most idealistic” ancestors chose to emigrate to the States (engendering the best universities in the world, as well as the most memorable speeches in English). Americans’ love of independence (e.g., cowboys on the open range), skyscrapers, philanthropy, and movies elicits some truly cheeky, tear-swiping observations by Gill, though he is most eloquent when describing his first encounter with the Appalachian folk of eastern Kentucky while visiting an American cousin in the mid-1970s as an art student at Slade. This is a wonderful work by a besotted, biting observer; we’re glad he’s on our side. Agents: Charlie Campbell and Ed Victor, Ed Victory Literary Agency. (July)