It’s ironic isn’t it? I mean that’s the only way to view it, Gavin would have. Reading his words, digesting his thoughts, you know what he’s thinking now, and come on you have to agree… I mean surviving gun fire in no less than three war zones, dancing with death in a tango of drugs, drink and sex binges, gallivanting in a famine zone, I mean even a handful of suicide attempts and severe depression to boot and all that couldn’t finish him off… but killed on a fishing holiday? It maybe pure irony but in truth Gavin’s death was a deep deep tragedy. As not only did a great man and friend to millions die on that day, but a part of youth culture and youth articulation also perished.
In a sense I envy Gavin, the way in which he intertwined the most hard hitting of messages with the most light hearted banter surpasses all I’ve encountered. Not only was his writing highly meaningful, this intermingling of deep yet highly satirically bordered humour makes Gavin’s writing not only a pleasure to read, but assessable to all.
From Dance steps to drug laws and football to famine, a perfect cross section of culture seems to be covered in this book 'Bliss To Be Alive'. Writing for such illustrious publications as the Idler and The Face, Gavin captivated his audience in a way no other writer could. Although I may be slightly too young to truly remember the times Gavin talked about, I can still fully appreciate them. It seems that almost no one is really interested in youth culture and in particular writing about it anymore, this book has gone shamefully unnoticed by the masses. In truth I didn’t so much as search for it… instead I stumbled blindly, in the dark, with both eyes closed and blindfolded on to it, and what a find it turned out to be.
At this point it is so tempting to let Gavin do the talking, but the mere task of choosing which quote to include is near impossible. Even if you don’t want to read the whole book, if captivating stories of culture don’t enthral you, or satirical humour doesn’t entertain you, then promise me this... that you will at least read the one article; ‘Somalia Darkness has its Disneyland**’ To say this article is meaningful is a criminal understatement… it’s not JUST_ meaningful, It’s life changing. This was the article that yielded my ambition, in it’s twelve and a half pages it summed up who I was, what I wanted to do it, who I wanted to be and more importantly why?
Gavin’s death doesn’t hit home until the final two pieces, ‘Happiness’ – written by Gavin, yet read out at his funeral, and ‘Facing The Enemy’** –written By Gavin’s brother on the aftermath of his death. Throughout the book, combined with the triumphant sense of achievement there is a deep sense of loss that only hindsight can provide. This unexplainable feature is best articulated by Fraser’s emotionally driven words asking the question on everyone’s mind, why Gavin? But as Sheryl Garrett states, it isn’t his death that makes him interesting, looking at the smiling face on the cover it’s still hard to believe he’s not there. As used in the book it seems appropriate to use this one quote of Gavin’s here:
‘“Someone once told me that you should wear grief like a medal”_ he wrote “Pin grief to your chest and let it sit proudly in the honour of your father. As the years go by it won’t disappear, just sink beneath the skin to your heart. There it shall lie forever. One day at a time”’
Again isn’t ironic how Gavin’s words sum up how the world was feeling the day after his death.
'Bliss To Be Alive'** isn’t so much a book; it’s more a statement and one that speaks volumes about youth and youth culture. Gavin doesn’t ask for your sympathy even when describing some of the world’s neediest people, instead he just gains your utmost respect.
Ever read something that made you cry? Not just shed a few tears I mean really cry? As in break down into a flood of tears?… I hadn’t, then I read this. A truly awe-inspiring read from cover to cover, page to page and word to word!
10Vic Bird's Score