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Sideways: A Novel Paperback – September 23, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 190 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brick does an admirable job of bringing to life the characters of Miles and Jack as they head off for a weeklong junket in California wine country in the face of impending marriage, professional duress and a lot of bottled-up emotions. Given the strong performances of Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church in one of last year's most popular films—and that the audio is packaged to tie in with the movie—it makes sense that Brick's portrayals echo those of the two actors. From Miles's quivering tone of despair to Jack's husky, confident exhortations (and even Miles's famously delivered opinion on the prospect of drinking merlot), there are obvious similarities in approach. But Brick deftly builds on that approach and extends it to the further and different adventures the two men endure in Pickett's novel, including a doomed late-night boar hunt with a feckless and potentially dangerous local. He also nicely handles the budding romance between Miles and a lovely, intelligent waitress named Maya, along with the explosive denouement of Jack's misguided fling with a wine pourer named Tara. It makes for a lively reading of this hearty, well-balanced look at the plight of middle age. Based on the Griffin paperback (Reviews, May 17, 2004). (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (October 1, 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 (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback
Apparently I'm one of the few people who read the novel first and then saw the movie. Call me a Luddite, I guess. Really enjoyed the novel. It's funny without being too over the top; sorrowful without being treacly. It has a fast pace, largely because the dialogue feels so real, it's almost like you're dropping into these guys' lives and hanging out with them. The setting, I can attest, is real; and the movie uses the same locations as are in the novel, which makes it even that much more real. The movie cut to what was best about the novel without changing very much and it's a credit to the filmmakers, and I can see why they deserved the Oscar. But don't underestimate the book, which is the foundation for the movie. Comic novels are rare these days. Comic novels about guys are really rare; they're mostly about women who are unhappy in love. Sad to read the previous critique where the reviewer read only two pages and tossed the book aside because there were too many F words. Well, I went back to check the two pages in question and the F words were all in dialogue. In my recollection the author only uses colorful language in dialogue because, duh, that's how these guys talk. His prose, on the other hand, is elegant, especially when he waxes on about wine. Besides, the film has a lot of F words as well. Everyone's entitled to their opinion but what's really pathetic is how the Internet brings every Aimee Semple MacPherson out of the woodwork. If you loved the movie, how could you not at least like the book? They're two peas in a pod.
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