David Ellis

Still Smoking

The Last Cigarette

By

Granta Books 312pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Admirers of Simon Gray will not be disappointed by this last volume in his trilogy of ‘smoking diaries’. Many of the topics he treats are now familiar: the delights of swimming, the miseries of air travel, the pains and humiliations of the decaying body, and then, more sombre still, the deaths of close friends or family members. Interspersed with reflections on these matters are vivid memories of his childhood in Canada and his student days in Cambridge, while throughout there is the old story of his none-too-heroic battle against nicotine addiction, alcohol having long since made a sad but forced withdrawal from his life. The theatre bulks large, as it must do for a writer who is best known for his plays, and the second half of this book is largely taken up with an account, both comic and poignant, of a trip to New York in the autumn of 2006 for a revival of Butley, a work once closely associated with his friend Alan Bates.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,