Saturday, March 10, 2007

Thumbs Sideways
by Rex Pickett


First of all. The movie's better. It's rare that happens, even rarer that I enjoy saying that. Still, it's true.

Now then, that that's out of the way - Sideways - a fortunately quick read told by a protagonist that really takes some getting used to (if you ever do get used to him) that wanders and meanders to who knows where and ends up just as lost.

I'm sorry, I'll really try to make some sense.

This novel follows two middle-aged men on a week-long wine binge before one of them gets married. Miles, a struggling/failed writer is at wit's end in his personal and professional lives, is supposed to clash comedically with Jack, the fun-loving, charismatic, mildly successful B-actor about to get married. They're best friends, if you didn't already guess that, and they're out for one last hurrah in Santa Ynez wine country. They both drink from morning to midnight, mostly wine, in what seems to be a fictional story set in a very non-fiction world. The restaurants are real, the wineries are real, the hotels are real.

Yet, none of this makes a shred of difference. The characters aren't real, and if they are, I don't care because they're crass and dispicable and unfunny and full of predictable lines. Sure, there are a few moments shining with insight, but they are as rare as the laughs. Jack's recurring injuries that mimic his inner struggle to kill his upcoming marriage was the one saving grace in a novel full poorly plotted and even more poorly executed. I'm just glad it was quick and that they made a movie out of the book that made wine-tasting seem more enjoyable than delinquent.

I can only hope that I don't sound as pretentious and snobby about wine when I do learn about it, because I am trying desperately to learn, and that I can enjoy it without turning my nose up at the next guy.

Wow! That was bad. It actually turned out a lot worse than I thought it would. I guess I really didn't like that book. Eeh!

Maybe I'll have some wine with my whining. Maybe some Merlot.

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