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Vertical Paperback – January 1, 2011
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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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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. The first half has some interesting moments, but overall nothing as funny as some of the crazy happenings in Sideways (the boar hunter scene comes to mind!). The second half is amazing. The scene in the Thunderstorm is great, as are the scenes in the final two chapters. It's worth reading if you are a fan of Sideways. Don't expect it to be quite as solid as Sideways though and you will be pleased.
This book is saved by the genuine feeling and good writing of the last 80 pages, in which Miles quits drinking, sobers up, realizes that his half-baked, wine-fueled plan to take his mother to live with her sister in Wisconsin isn't going to work, despite his good intentions and best efforts. These scenes are so moving and well written that to me they made the whole book worthwhile. The stuff that's supposed to be funny isn't, but the stuff that is more serious and tragic works very well.
Most recent customer reviews
I don't see how a screenplay can be produced from this. To bad......