June 3, 2008

Sideways, by Rex Pickett

You know, sometimes I feel like all I do is bash books on here. But I guess I really am very picky. And even when I don't like a book, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy reading it, and I take equal pleasure in then bashing it.

I don't know how this book got published in the first place, and then how it got made into a film. The writing was average, the characters annoying, the language even more annoying. This is one of those writers that likes to make up his own slang, and also to seize upon certain words, the more annoying the better, to repeat ad nauseum.

Examples: "sideways" = drunk. Makes a certain amount of sense, but have you ever heard anyone saying this out loud in this context? Of course not. Because "drunk" does just as well and sounds decidedly less ridiculous. And "quaff" = a large gulp of wine. I don't mine one quaff in a book, or even as many as two, but these guys are quaffing on every page. I often accuse writers of relying too much on their Thesaurus, but in this case I think Pickett ought to have picked one up.

I was worried this book would make me crave wine. I enjoy wine, and of course being pregnant I'm not in a position to drink any right now. I needn't have worried. It's quite possible that Pickett has put me off wine forever. His characters can't simply enjoy wine, they have to analyze it to death and apply their uncanny encyclopedic knowledge of wine making to their judgment of it. Before I read this book I was curious about the world of wine, now I think I'll stick to my dark lagers on principle.

I haven't seen the movie, I may add it to my Netflix queue for compare and contrast. But from looking at stills from the movie, the film might be a bit more palatable. It looks like they turned the main character, Miles, from a black turtleneck and hipster glasses wearing snot to a more likable balding guy who wears polo shirts like everyone else. And the two women, who have the unlikely names of Terra and Maya (unlikely for their generation), look like regular, approachable women. In the book they are amazing glamorous creatures who live out in the boonies and somehow manage to purchase designer wardrobes and top-notch wines on what they earn from waiting tables. And also have somehow acquired the requisite encyclopedic knowledge of wine.

Also the book is written as though Pickett means to put women on a pedestal, but it completely backfires. They are nothing more than objects who can only be admired -and only in this capacity- if they fill three requirements: great beauty, designer wardrobe, and good with a corkscrew.

I take no leave of Rex Pickett, and I send no compliments to his mother. Avoid!


  1. Thanks. I definitely won't be picking up this book any time soon. See that's what this blog is for... to help each other out in avoiding the bad ones.

  2. Yeah, that doesn't sound too appetizing.

    It's so funny about the names thing. I hate when books or movies have characters with names that are not typical/likely at the time that the character would have been born. I don't mean unusual names, but like a 40-year-old named Brittany or a 20-year-old named Madison.

  3. I never got the appeal of the movie, so I definitely won't be reading the book!!

  4. I just finished reading a great mystery book Fatal Deduction by Gayle Roper. I am giving away 2 copies this week on my blog.


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