This is a brilliant comic novel about two sadsacks who take off to the Santa Barbara County wine country. One is a failed novelist who has replaced his remorse over his divorce to his soulmate with a romance with wine. His best friend is a semi-successful TV director in Hollywood. The book is hilarious, but there's a depth of sadness that this is going to be the last time they get together in this way. The equally brilliant movie changed some things, and not always for the best -- Sandra Oh's character changes tipped it a little more toward ugliness -- but the book cuts deeper than its comedy; it's a soul-searching tragedy of lives lost in the balance. Reviewers who complain about profanity shouldn't be allowed to review this; it just isn't objective reviewing. This book, aside from being the definitive novel -- I didn't say nonfiction -- written about wine is going to go down as a classic comic story, one that will last for years to come. I saw the film several times and it cut deeper every time. But I think the book stands up to the movie and may even be better in some way because it interiorizes the main character of Miles in a way that the movie can't. There's something deeply archetypal about Jack and Miles; we both know guys like this. The women may border on fantasy at times, but they're just as flawed and just as lonely and aliented in their own lives and it's not hard to buy why they would all want to have a good time. For people who think "real" characters like this don't exist, they're living in some faith-based bubble where they want their art to represent some ludicrous fantasy of goodness. Well, it ain't like that out there, folks. This is a tremendous book from a truly gifted author.
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