Essays: A.A. Gill: On his dyslexia |
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A.A. Gill: On his dyslexia

In the British weekend upmarket press, A.A. Gill is a must-read journalist in the sense that you would read his television column even if you didn’t watch television, and his restaurant reviews even if you never went out to eat. Plenty of featured journalists fancy themselves as possessing an individual voice but Gill really has one. When he promulgates a transparently batso opinion, mere indignation won’t stop you reading his piece to the end. There is such a thing as an authoritative rhythm, and he has it. But he had to learn it by ear, because he is dyslexic. In March 2010 he published, in his home-base outlet the Sunday Times, a particularly brilliant article about his affliction and how he managed to transcend it. My own view about the use of English is that there is a limit to how expressive you can be unless you have studied how the language works, but I have to admit that there is the occasional writer who gets a long way without having studied it at all. Since my own view is echoed by every pedantic fuddy-duddy, and I might even, with age, have become one of those myself, it can’t hurt to have the contrary view stated so well. Gill has written an impressive cry of freedom. He rather underestimates, I think, the amount of analytical power which is concentrated into his acute ear for the speech of others – there are dyslexic people who will never learn so much just by listening – but he is surely right in his insistence that the secret of instilling confidence in the afflicted is to dial down the fear and humiliation. Most importantly, he knows how to make light of the grief. Like almost everything he writes, this vitally important article is fun in the best sense.

Read A.A. Gill on his dyslexia