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Editorial Reviews

Review

Vertical -- Rex Pickett's long-anticipated sequel to his now iconic Sideways -- had me alternately laughing and crying through this hilarious, heartbreaking and ultimately moving meditation on Fame, Friendship and Family. Vertical managed to break my heart and then put it back together again, piece by piece ... and should abolish any lingering doubts whether the author just got "lucky" with Sideways. This is a work to be both admired and savored like the great Willamette Valley Pinots Miles exults over." --Marco Mannone, Forth Magazine

"Vertical" is an often over-the-top, sometimes poignant, always entertaining story peppered throughout with impenetrably obscure but colorfully descriptive and eminently accurate adjectives... . What happens on the trip north through California accounts for much of the hilarious, ludicrous and outrageous action..Rex Pickett has not let us down. --Kark Klooster, Oregon Wine Press

"Sideways," ....is arguably the most influential wine-themed book that became a film in American history. The film Sideways grossed $250 million... and people are still debating whether it alone caused Pinot Noir sales to spike, or was merely a factor in the variety's astonishing success. Now we have the follow up story in Vertical..." --Steve Heimoff, Wine Enthusiast

Rex Pickett shows that his gift for creating wildly funny scenes is quite intact... The book is laugh-out-loud funny. --Paul Jameson, New York Journal of Books

About the Author

Rex Pickett is a screenwriter and novelist living in Santa Monica, CA.  His novel "Sideways" was made into the movie of the same title, directed and co-adapted by "Election" and "About Schmidt" filmmaker Alexander Payne.  "Sideways" garnered over 350 prestigious awards from various critics and awards organizations, including, most notably, the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.  It recently was voted as one of 101 Greatest Screenplays of All Time by the Writers Guild of America.  Rex's script "My Mother Dreams the Satan's Disciples in New York" was the basis for the Barbara Schock-directed AFI film which won the 2000 Oscar for Best Live Action Short.  He is currently writing a comedy series for HBO entitled "The Nose."  "Vertical" is his second novel.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Loose Gravel Press LLC; 1 edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615392180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615392189
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rex Pickett's Biography


Rex Pickett is the critically-acclaimed author of the novel Sideways, upon which the Oscar-winning Alexander Payne film of the same title was adapted. Not only did the film win over 350 awards from major critics and awards organizations and completely change the wine world, the film has continued to garner a worldwide cult following.

Rex was born in California and grew up in San Diego. He attended the University of California at San Diego where he matriculated summa cum laude with a Special Projects major, his diploma reading: "Specializing in Contemporary Literary and Film Criticism and Creative Writing."

In the early '80s Rex moved to Los Angeles to attend USC's graduate film school. Disappointed with their conservative approach to filmmaking, he and his then wife, Barbara Schock, spent the '80s making two independent feature films, California Without End and From Hollywood to Deadwood. Rex wrote, directed and edited both films. California Without End was a 1,000-mile road movie, made on the minuscule budget of $60,000. It sold to Bavarian Radio Television and played film festivals. From Hollywood to Deadwood was a 4,000 mile road movie, was produced for a cost of just under a million and sold to Island Pictures (now MGM) and was released in 1990.

Rex returned to writing and wrote numerous scripts, both on spec and for hire. He was the last writer on David Fincher's first feature, Alien III. His original screenplay The Road Back was bought by Joan Micklin Silver (Crossing Delancey), for whose company he also adapted the novel Striking it Rich. His first studio paying job was for Kevin Bacon's MixedBreed Films, a then Columbia/TriStar production company.

In the mid-'90s Barbara Schock enrolled in the American Film Institute as one of 25 directors in their prestigious graduate film school. Rex wrote all three of her first-year shorts. Barbara was one of only four directors to be asked back for a second year. Her thesis film, My Mother Dreams the Satan's Disciples in New York, written by Rex, won over 15 film festivals, then triumphantly captured the granddaddy of all short film recognition, the 2000 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. This year, Barbara Schock was just named Chair of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film program.

Around the same time Rex turned his prodigious talents to prose writing. Marrying his first love of film to the long-form style of the novel, he wrote a mystery titled La Purisima. It immediately attracted the attention of publishing agents and he signed with Curtis Brown, LTD. Though the novel didn't sell, it galvanized Rex to write what would become his signature work, the novel Sideways.

In 2003 Alexander Payne, along with his writing partner Jim Taylor, began their adaptation of Rex's novel. Payne was quoted in numerous interviews saying that "Rex's novel was our easiest adaptation because Rex thinks like a screenwriter." The film went into production in the fall of '03 and was released the following year. It captured every single Best Screenplay Adaptation award in the world including the 2005 Academy Award, the Golden Globe, and the prestigious Writers Guild of America award. The film went on to gross over half a billion dollars in all ancillary markets.

In 2011 Rex came out with his Sideways sequel, titled Vertical. It won the Independent Publisher Book Award for Best Fiction. During the same time Rex wrote a pilot for HBO with Leverage Management (Entourage and Boardwalk Empire).

Also in 2011 Rex was asked to adapt his now iconic novel Sideways into a theatrical production. The play was first produced at the 50-seat Equity-waiver Ruskin Group Theater. It opened in May, 2012 with 3 performances a week. It sold out every performance for over 6 months, breaking all record at Ruskin and winning a number of awards. In no time Rex signed with William Morris Endeavor's theatrical touring agent Susan Weaving, who got his play to 3-time Tony Award-winning director, Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys). In almost impossibly record time the play was produced at the august La Jolla Playhouse (50 plays sent to Broadway and over 80 Tony Awards) and opened July 21st, 2013. It was extended twice and broke all attendance records for a non-musical play in the La Jolla Playhouse's 30-year history. It is now headed to London with The Dodgers, a Broadway powerhouse theatrical production company.

In the fall of 2012 the government of Chile, in conjunction with Wines of Chile, invited Rex to travel the length and breadth of their country, focusing on their emerging wine regions, and researching the writing of a third book in the Sideways series. Rex has just finished what he is titling Sideways 3 Chile and the book will come out in July of 2014.

In the summer of 2013, on the campus of his alma mater, UCSD -- coincidentally also where the La Jolla Playhouse is situated -- Rex's papers were accepted by the Mandeville Special Collections in the Theodore Geisel Library where they are now archived for posterity.

From two self-published books of poetry to two independent feature films, student shorts, screenplays -- both feature and TV -- to two published novels and now theater, Rex has written in practically every fictional form. (He has also won two travel journalism awards for articles written for Travel & Leisure Golf Magazine.) He is currently represented by William Morris Endeavor in theater and publishing, and by the Agency for the Performing Arts in screen and TV. He is managed by the former co-president of Untitled Entertainment, Brian Young. He has been a member of the Writers Guild of America since 1990 and the Dramatists Guild since 2012.

Rex recently returned from 5 months in Tuscany where he was writing an original screenplay titled Raymond in Chianti for the De Angelis Group, a film to be shot in the fall of 2015. He is currently living in La Jolla and working on a new play as he awaits news on his Sideways the play going to London for a West End run.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Marco Critic on December 31, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
If you ever wanted to continue riding along with Miles and Jack as they drink fine wines and sleep with sultry women, "Vertical" definitely delivers. But Rex Pickett doesn't merely retread the same terrain as he did in "Sideways", he sets his story on existential fire, deconstructs it, and then boldly shoves it into uncharted emotional territory for himself and his alter-ego, Miles Raymond. If a "sequel" is technically just more of something, then "Vertical" does not qualify. Life is drastically different for Miles this time around, who is reeling from his success as a writer who's book became a hot movie (sound familiar?). In "Sideways" Miles was dogged by his failures, now Miles is dogged by his success and its trappings: drowning in all the Pinot and p---y he could ever hope for. Like Icarus before him, Miles is flying too close to the sun and his proverbial wings are melting. Between chugging from spit-buckets before cheering crowds and engaging in whirlwind threesomes, he's quickly losing touch with reality. A reality that becomes impossible to ignore when he chooses to rescue his ailing mother from her nursing home. His mission: to emcee a hedonistic wine festival in Oregon en route to depositing his mother in Wisconsin to live out her final days. Easier said than done, to say the least.

Yes, Miles and Jack are back, loaded up on wine and hitting the West Coast asphalt (along with an eternally-stoned Filipina caretaker and his mother's pesky dog). Only now, Jack is the loser going nowhere fast with his life (divorced, jobless) and Miles is the wild womanizer, a role-reversal that offers much insight into both characters, and a lot of laughs.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ace1333 on March 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Miles and Jack are back on the road, this time venturing to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, to again chase their quaffable dragon, Pinot Noir. And I couldn't be happier to read about it!

Vertical, Rex Pickett's follow up to his acclaimed debut novel Sideways, is a rewarding read for anyone who loved the Sideways novel or the film adaptation. Lovers of the movie will delight in imagining how Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen will play the scenes of Vertical, and lovers of the novel will enjoy seeing how the true characters (as the Miles and Jack of the novel differ greatly from the ones in the movie) have grown, matured, and in some cases regressed, since that fateful trip to Santa Ynez.

Not to be left out, Oenophiles and casual wine lovers get their due, as Rex treats the reader to a handy primer on Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, and a few further lessons about the wine world of Central Coast California.

What I enjoy most about Rex Pickett's work is how much of himself you can read into his characters. Rex's choice to parallel his own life, by having Miles find success by writing a novel that is, ostensibly Sideways, and have it achieve the same film success as the Alexander Payne movie, is a master stroke. Rex gets to comment on the compromise-laden reality of Hollywood, how when movies are made into books, the two entities become interchangeable, and, for better or worse, how the author of the novel must accept what the film and filmmaker turn the book into. More importantly, knowing what we know about how similar real life and the world of the novel are, we get the added bonus (read: "salacious joy") of wondering just how much of what we are reading actually happened to Rex.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Barrett TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved Sideways, both the novel and the film. I read Sideways again just before starting this novel. I won't go into too many details, but the first half involves a new Miles enjoying his new lifestyle. He decides to take a road trip from LA up to IPNC Oregon before heading east to Wisconsin to deliver his ailing mother to her sister. So we have a road trip. Awesome yes? Well yes and no.

The first half of the novel is all about Miles looking to get laid. And Pickett seems to really get into these scenes. Sadly he spends a lot of time on these 'conquests', albeit to set up later events, but the rest of the narrative suffers. Jack has become a sad and uninteresting character, clinging to Miles coattails. The most interesting character is Miles' mother and her crazy dog Snapper.

Once the group is on the road, I expected some winery antics, but sadly we get a stop in at Justin and a quick stop at Foxen. The winery visits lose their allure and are not as funny as in the first novel. In Sonoma we have a quick stop at Gary Farrel. Sadly no Oregon wineries are visited except the stop at Willakenzie while on the IPNC tour bus. What I missed though was the banter between Jack and Miles while drinking and delighting in the vineyard.

IPNC is the turning point. While at IPNC some pretty interesting events go down, and we are finally back in the 'Sideways' territory. Once we are with Miles on the subsequent trip to Wisconsin, we enter a whole new realm of writing for Pickett. This is personal, heartfelt, and moving. The relationship between Miles and his mother is brought to the forefront. We also see Miles confront himself with both his alcoholism and his loneliness. It's pretty amazing stuff.

So I rounded out to four stars.
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