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Sideways: A Novel Paperback – September 23, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; English Language edition (September 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312342519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312342517
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two old friends set out for a weeklong romp through Santa Ynez, Calif., wine country that comically strains their friendship in Pickett's lively debut. Smart, hapless narrator Miles is divorced and broke, and his novel's been rejected all over town. His handsome, "ursine" best friend, Jack, a successful actor, is about to get married, and wants to enjoy a few last days of freedom. Pickett gleefully chronicles their many minor adventures, including the oversexed Jack's attempts at getting laid, a boar-hunting episode and a staged car accident. Add to that massive amounts of wine: oenophile Miles swills rather than sips, and Jack's always been a party guy. While Jack works his charm on the ladies, Miles has his own flirtation with a lovely waitress. Miles can be a delightful narrator, but he's no prince: he's a bore when it comes to wine, for example, and he can get a little pseudophilosophical ("photos mock the present by staring back at us with their immutable luster of our youthful past"). He also thinks nothing of snatching a couple thousand dollars from his alcoholic mother on her birthday. But redemption for all is promised and Pickett takes his readers on a jolly ride. His novel sounds like a perfect buddy flick, and indeed, it will have its chance: Alexander Payne (About Schmidt; Election) is directing it for Fox Searchlight.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Screenwriter Pickett's debut, already a film in the making by Almost Schmidt director Alexander Payne, is a buddy novel in the cinematic vein of Swingers. Two longtime friends, Miles, a struggling, cynical, recently divorced writer and wine snob, and Jack, a soon-to-be-wed TV director, leave Los Angeles for vineyard country on Jack's last week as a bachelor. Their road trip of endless imbibing and carousing feels like Dharma Bums updated with metrosexual panache. Miles is most interested in consuming wine while Jack is hell-bent on consummating one last affair. Jack's suave demeanor and classically handsome mug get both friends into uproarious and dangerous situations in this rambling comedy of errors. Pickett plays the sex-and-the-single-man angle for all its worth here, nodding occasionally at such larger themes as friendship and romance. Call it Nick Hornby lite. Misha Stone
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Rex Pickett is a novelist and a screenwriter living in Santa Monica, CA. His new novel "Vertical" is a follow-up to his novel "Sideways" -- from which the critically-acclaimed Alexander Payne film was made -- and will be available September, 2011. Visit him on his Web site at:

Customer Reviews

A fun easy read.
The characters have potential; however, although the story was interesting in the beginning, it quickly lost its fizz because it was sloppily written.
Kelly Kristine Janus
I saw the movie before I read the book.
Mel R. Scurbica

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Bevetroppo on February 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Miles is an alcoholic and he's a bad role model, or so says an article in the Sunday NY Times today. Thirty-something wine wannabes are packing the Hitching Post and reciting lines from the movie like crazed Rocky Horror Show refugees (especially when it comes to defaming Merlot), according to the Wall Street Journal a few days earlier.. Who would have ever thought wine geekdom could be so hip, so funny, so sexy? Alexander Payne deserves an Academy Award for accomplishing this feat alone, and we'll know next week if he gets it. Among its other nominations, Sideways is also up for best adapted screenplay, and now that I've read the book, it certainly gets my vote in this category.

I'm not sure what was going through my mind when I decided to buy the book after having seen and loved the movie. I guess at worst I thought I could read the stuff specifically about wine and continue sifting through it to see if I could find any false notes (what else would a geek do?) The cheap-looking puke green paperback cover with the unpromising come-on, "The ultimate roadtrip. The last hurrah," certainly didn't compel me.

But my fears were unfounded. The book is miraculously even better than the movie on almost every dimension. The characters are richer, and the story is both funnier and more believable. For starters, Miles is better -looking than Paul Giamatti. Only a truly sideways wine geek could believe for a minute that Virginia Madsen or any other Maya could fall for someone with a puss like that. Maybe the movie should have been titled "Revenge of the Wine Nerds."

The plot of the book roughly parallels the movie, but the details are deliciously different and absolutely repay reading the book.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Frank Upchurch on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Like most people I saw the movie, then went back and read the book. I loved the movie, but in some ways the book is better. Miles, the main character in the movie, is more lovable in the book. And he's funnier!! In the movie he comes across as a bit of pretentious snob, but in the book his passion for wine is totally believable. Jack, the other main character in the book, is a hoot in the movie, but I find he has more going on in the book. The book is a real complement to the movie, which owes a great deal to the book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By chris meesey Food Czar on February 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
A wonderful, refreshing (and thoroughly alcoholic) read, Sideways centers on two main characters: Miles, an Apollonian, writer, always pondering existence and his meaning and place in it; and Jack, a Dionysian (how appropriate for a wine novel!), happy-go-lucky, live-for-the-moment kind of guy. Together, they spend a week on the road in California (Santa Ynez) wine country, so Miles can kill time and entertain his best friend while awaiting (hopeful) publication of his first novel; and so Jack can get some last minute "action" before sacrificing himself on the altar of wedded bliss. Many hilarious scenes ensue, particularly the opening $5 tasting opus at the local wine purveyor, the delightful Pinotfest at the Fess Parker winery late in the book, and any scene involving Maya and Terra, two delicious honeys picked up by the guys during their debauchfest. Doublecross and betrayal, staged auto accidents, a wild boar hunt with a real wild bore (note the change in spelling!), and tastings aplenty will have both the wine novice and aficianado alike on the edge of their seat. The lead characters are especially memorable: Miles and Jack discover they truly need each other. Miles needs Jack to keep from sliding into depression after his recent divorce, and Jack not only needs Miles to get him to the wedding on time, but also to have a soul buddy he can truly relate to. (One of the best ironies of this book is the fact that Jack can score with women, but can't relate to them, while Miles can relate to women, but often can't seem to score with them!) A fabulous read, to be sure. However, before buying a copy, the truly astute reader will be sure to have certain supplies on hand: 1.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By KaufNYC on August 25, 2004
Format: Paperback
Read about the movie and it sounded great. Alexander Payne is a solid director who always has a good eye for material, so I figured this would be a quality read. I was right. Pickett's book is hysterical with lots of twists and turns. Every adventure Miles and Jack go on is more comical than the one that proceeded it. The dialogue between the both of them and the women that come into their lives is filled with electricity and truth.

Comical, dirty fun. Be careful though. With all the wonderful details about wine (there are plenty), you'll find yourself pouring a glass or three just to keep pace with the characters.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By David Rodriguez on October 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
I just wanted to say that this book was excellent. With every description Pickett writes of the wine, I found myself wishing I could also taste them. The story is entertaining, and its characters are full of charisma. Granted many of their actions throughout the book are questionable, they never lose that charm. Especially Miles, whom I find I have a lot in common with. I really can't wait to see how it will come out on the big screen, hopefully it keeps all the flavor.
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