December 14 2010
I am a hundred pages into Rex Pickett’s new novel called Vertical (the sequel to Sideways) and I’ve realized two things: First, despite having seen Sideways the movie four or five times, I wish I had read Sideways the book first (Admit! You haven’t read it, either) and second, having a dictionary handy adds tremendous enjoyment to my reading.
Since I’m only a hundred pages into the book this isn’t a review, nor am I likely to do a review. As an avowed reader of non-fiction, I’ll leave fiction criticism to people who are qualified to do so. I can say, however, that the premise of the book is a mind-bending one (not quite to the level of Inception, but definitely on the order of Being John Malkovich), which is why I recommend reading Sideways the book first.
It goes something like this: Riding high from the fame found in writing a fictitious book called “Shameless” and having a movie made of those adventures (the same adventures made famous in Sideways), Miles, Jack, and crew embark on more wine-fueled madcap adventures.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s really odd to have the adventures in Sideways that we all know referred to as a fictional book and movie called “Shameless” with Miles called “Martin.” Not having the context of the book Sideways makes it hard to track whether the incongruousness of the first-person narrative from Miles in Vertical is confounding because of my simpleton nature, or something I should *get* from the source book, which supposedly varies slightly from the movie. This peccadillo aside, the real purpose of this post is to encourage you to do two things – buy Vertical and support a wine-loving writer and dust off your dictionary, as well. You’re going to need it.
To say the protagonist, Miles Raymond, has a big vocabulary is an understatement akin to saying Michael Jordan was merely a “good” basketball player. I’m known to throw off a $2 word every now and again, but I can’t hold a candle to author Pickett and the narrator, Miles.
Nestled into some overt, ready-made for the ensuing movie product placement (Revo sunglasses, Riedel Sommelier glasses, an iPhone, Silverseas Cruises, Toyota Sienna, et al) while, oddly, Viagra is referred to by its medical name, Sildenafil, and some wine name-checking (David Family, Bonaccorsi, Justin Wines, St. Innocent Winery, Witness Tree Vineyard, Sokol Blosser, Bergström), and what seems to be a strong authorial voice breaking through pissed that he’s not getting sales commission from The Hitching Post, along with the inclusion of a song ready made for the movie trailer (Harry Belafonte’s Day-O), are the following words you should brush up on (links to dictionary.com).
Vertical Vocab Primer / Pt. I (Chapters 1 – 6)
My wife, the Book Editor, tells me that the Twilight series of books is the baseline for a series of vocab study guides for high school tests—the SAT, ACT, etc from Cliffs Notes. Learn the meaning of words in context with passages from the Twilight books. It’s a good idea, but methinks Vertical vocab is Post-Doctoral quality and there ain’t no testing after a Ph.D. ...