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Vertical Paperback – January 1, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


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 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,509 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
*** Mild spoilers throughout ***

Like many folks who have read this book, I suspect, I came at it first from the movie version of Sideways, which was fabulous, and got me interested in reading the novel on which the film was based. That got me to Rex Pickett's tale, which I thought was very good; not quite as good a book as the film version was a movie, but very good. So I was looking forward to continuing the journey and really, really wanted to enjoy Vertical. But I just couldn't...

As others note, Vertical is set seven years after the events in Sideways. With art mirroring life, Miles is now enjoying west coast wine celebrity by virtue of having finally got a pretty good book published which by incredible good fortune got turned into a highly successful movie. So far so good; so what's my problem?

Well, first is the setting. It's another road trip, but this time the mission is transporting Miles's elderly mother back to her hometown of Sheboygan (determinedly down-market) to live with her sister. Again this includes passing through wine country, in this case the Willamette Valley of Oregon, but the descriptions of wines this time seem like canned drop-ins. I can imagine an index card somewhere with "Winery XYZ" at the top and few bullet points which then get ladled into the text. Also unsettling are several instances where Miles, in his new-found celebrity role, is booked to give speeches before various groups. These are reproduced verbatim and with Miles's descriptions of the crowd going absolutely demented with hilarity. But the speeches are just not that funny. Is this an attempt at an Unreliable Narrator device? Or has Rex Pickett actually experienced crowds going berserk for the weakest of humor -- maybe if enough wine is being consumed.
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