Think of England, and anger hardly springs to mind as its primary national characteristic. Yet in The Angry Island, A. A. Gill argues that, in fact, it is plain old fury that is the wellspring for England's accomplishments.
The default setting of England is anger. The English are naturally, congenitally, collectively and singularly livid much of the time. They're incensed, incandescent, splenetic, prickly, touchy, and fractious. They can be mildly annoyed, really annoyed and, most scarily, not remotely annoyed. They sit apart on their half of a damply disappointing little island, nursing and picking at their irritations. The English itch inside their own skins. They feel foreign in their own country and run naked through their own heads.
Perhaps aware that they're living on top of a keg of fulminating fury, the English have, throughout their history, come up with hundreds of ingenious and bizarre ways to diffuse anger or transform it into something benign. Good manners and queues, cul-de-sacs and garden sheds, and almost every game ever invented from tennis to bridge. They've built things, discovered stuff, made puddings, written hymns and novels, and for people who don't like to talk much, they have come up with the most minutely nuanced and replete language ever spoken -- just so there'll be no misunderstandings.
The Angry Island by turns attacks and praises the English, bringing up numerous points of debate for Anglophiles and anyone who wonders about the origins of national identity. This book hunts down the causes and the results of being the Angry Island.
"Utterly bloody rude." -- Terence Blacker, The Daily Mail (London)
"One can only admire the zest of the writing and applaud its splendid lack of political correctness." -- Beryl Bainbridge, Mail on Sunday (London)
"To be fair, it's funny, erudite, hurtful and scathing but, sadly, his observations about us do have a horrible ring of truth.... Think about it -- he might be right, damn him!" -- Western Daily Press
"[Gill's] writing is appealing and amusing in that way that is especially acceptable on a Sunday morning. Mr. Gill is a polemicist, and he polemically attacks aspects of England that he finds tiresome.... One is frequently forced to concede that he has a point." -- Simon Heffer, The Daily Telegraph (London)
"[A. A. Gill is] a wildly colorful generaliser." -- Peter Lewis, The Daily Mail (London)
"At various times caustic, hyperbolic, acerbic, juvenile, indignant, and solipsistic...[Gill] is also one of the most astute and entertaining observers of human cultures in recent years." -- Amy Farley, The New York Sun
"Imagine Evelyn Waugh reborn as one of Nick Hornby's endearingly superficial protagonists, and you have London's Sunday Times television and restaurant critic Gill: droll, astute, irritable, irritating and always cleaver-sharp." -- Publishers Weekly