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Nose: A Novel Hardcover – March 12, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Very engaging . . . a funny and suspenseful and above all, for me, evocative story about a valley much like Napa and its wine-making, wine-drinking people.” ―Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize--winning author

“A wonderful, fast-paced, and entertaining lens on the fiercely competitive world of wine and the many noses at play. From a writer well known for his knowledge of this world, this is a real page-turner.” ―Susan Richards Shreve, author of You Are the Love of My Life

“More than the five senses are stirred by wine. Lust, avarice, ego, wit, intrigue, memory, and dreams all await uncorking on each page of this sleek, passion-filled, powerfully informed novel.” ―Thomas Caplan, author of The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen

Nose is the novel for all seasons--a terrific mystery, a love story, an under-all-the-soil good-and-evil saga.... Conaway's prose is as gorgeous as some of the Northern California scenes he describes.” ―Jim Lehrer, PBS NewsHour and author of Super

“A spirited romp through the rarefied world of oenophilia by a smart, funny writer who knows the milieu well. Conaway expertly decants one of the world's most obsessive subcultures, giving us a bold, fruit-forward novel with distinct notes of hilarity.” ―Hampton Sides, author of Americana and Hellhound on His Trail

“James Conaway's Nose is a delicious, swashbuckling winery romance--best in its class since Miranda's Vines.” ―Madison Smartt Bell, National Book Award finalist for All Souls' Rising

“The cheerful complexity of Conaway's novel rivals the richest, most nose-worthy, palate-pleasing Cabernet.” ―Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

JAMES CONAWAY is the author of several books, including Napa: The Story of an American Eden, the nonfiction bestseller about the wine country and those responsible for California's winemaking triumphs, and its sequel, The Far Side of Eden. He is the author of two novels, The Big Easy and World's End. His recent books include Vanishing America. Conaway has written for multiple magazines, among them Harper's, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Saveur, Gourmet, and National Geographic Traveler.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; F First Edition edition (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250006848
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250006844
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James (Jim) Conaway grew up in Memphis but lived in Europe for several years before moving to Washington, D.C. A former Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University, he's the author of three novels including, most recently, Nose, set in northern California, which the Wall Street Journal reviewer said "offers a burst of hearty comic notes and finishes with a lingering penumbra of bittersweet nostalgia," and Kirkus reviewer that "the cheerful complexity of Conaway's novel rivals the richest, most nose-worthy, palate-pleasing Cabernet."
Jim's also the author of nine books of non-fiction, the most recent being "Vanishing America: In Pursuit of Our Elusive Landscapes", described by writer Tracy Kidder as "an enthralling, lovely tribute to a lot of what is precious in America." His previous book, "The Far Side of Eden", was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year in 2002 and a sequel to his best-selling "Napa: The Story of an American Eden", described in the New York Times Book Review as "an important story, emblematic of our time."
His other books include the memoir, "Memphis Afternoons", and "The Kingdom in the Country", a personal journey in a van through the public lands of the American West and described by Stegner as "a very lively book... He got into places and activities that most westerners never even get close to." Author Jim Harrison called it "a wonderful, well-considered evocation of the New West."
Jim's first novel, "The Big Easy", is based on his experiences as a police reporter in New Orleans; his second novel, "World's End", is a Louisiana coastal saga ofr politics and crime described as "a combination of All the King's Men" and "The Godfather."
Jim has written for many magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, Atlantic, Harper's, The New Republic, Gourmet, Smithsonian, and National Geographic Traveler. He divides his time between piedmont Virginia and Washington
Photo at right by Peter Menzel:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Culture. It is a combination of many things including facts, fictions, legends and landscapes.

Take my own Napa Valley. Valley culture is built on the facts of great wealth being produced here by old hands and newcomers to the winemaking industry that is largely sustained by a foundation of working poor Mexicans. The fiction that anyone can enter and be a part of this good and expensive life simply by moving to this region is a part of the Valley's cultural make up. The legends of what Napa Valley was and is and what it should be are always impacting the culture here and readily transmitted to the visitors and newcomers. And of course the rich and iconic landscape of Napa Valley along with the battles it has spawned among conservationists, developers and entrepreneurs is at the heart of the culture of Napa Valley.

James Conaway's newest novel, "Nose", is about Napa Valley (and its wine) culture. Despite that fact that nowhere within its 300+ quick-reading and engrossing pages does the word "Napa" appear and despite Conaway's claim in the book's Acknowledgments that "though the terrain bears a strong resemblance to specific places in Northern California...they are all mere antic shadows of the novelist's mind," this new work is in fact a dramatic (and often both funny and tragic) rendering of the Napa Valley that Conaway has come to understand after 30 years of visiting and observing its people, places and culture.

At the heart of "Nose" is a mystery: who produced the unlabeled bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that was secretly laid at the doorstep of the great wine critic Clyde Craven-Jones and that was deemed by this most powerful and corpulent critic to be the first California wine to deserve a perfect score of 20/20 points?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nose is fun to the bottom of the bottle and I can't recall a more enjoyable read. It's a mystery and a romance (a couple of them actually) and also a send-up of Napa in particular and the wine industry at large that amuses and never gets tiresome. The writer obviously has a fondness for the place, even as he skewers it, and for the product, too. Conaway, who has written two nonfiction books about Napa and has been the wine critic of The Washington Post, knows his stuff and it shows. Got my doubts about the solar-powered tractor he invents here, but none at all about the shenanigans. The story rings true because so much of it really is, with a lovely, lovely finish.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An exceptional vintage. Robust,lively, with a long finish; not too long in the oak. Uncork this one and settle in for a delicious read. I downed the whole thing in one sitting.
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the book arrived very promptly but the story was very predictable and written in a very stilted style. not his best effort
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a charmingly written look--albeit fictional --at the upper tier wine world from someone who knows his stuff. The characters and events are fictional but they bear a strong resemblance to the real life of the Napa Valley and selected wine critics. The addition of a vinous "mystery" kept the flow going; thus, a quick, enjoyable read, especially if you're into wine.
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Very fast and savvy look inside the California wine industry. Could easily see this adapted into a film. Could finally get everyone back on the Cabernet bandwagon.
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I can't tell you how disappointed I was. Mr. Conaway engaged me from the start - loved the characters, liked how they all wound up interacting. But it ended so abruptly. You can't get someone engaged in your characters and then just drop them like hot potatoes. I even went back and re-read the last chapter to make sure I hadn't missed something, but sadly I had not. It just felt like the author got bored at the end and just cut it off. I also wish there had been more development of the Ben character - he was so interesting There were also a lot of interesting plot threads that started and went nowhere - there was so much richness here and he just left a lot on the table. And why no showdown with Sarah and her father. Very unsatisfying. Anyway, worth reading, but be ready for not much of an ending. Sequel?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Previously had only read from Canaway's 'Eden' book about Napa Valley. I love wine and excellent english prose, and these are the reasons I purchased this book. It did not disappoint. Conaway's writing is phenomenal. The only reason I cannot give this an "excellent" rating is that the overall story structure is just o.k., and there is a significant event 2/3's of the way through that is implausible and struck me as a bit forced or gratuitous, and it changed the story arc. These things may be because, while Conaway is a tremendously accomplished non-fiction writer, this is only his second novel. So, this would account for brilliant, lucid, colorful, and incisive prose--as well as some inexperience in fiction writing, particularly story structure. I enjoyed reading this book for the two reasons I bought it: I love wine, and I love excellent writing.
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