A raucous and surprising novel filled with wonderful details about wine, Sideways is also a thought-provoking and funny book about men, women, and human relationships.
©2004 Rex Pickett; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Pickett takes his readers on a jolly ride." (Publishers Weekly)
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.
If you liked the movie, I think you will like the book, even though the book is very different in some respects. I loved the movie and I am tempted to give the book five stars. but the book does have flaws/lapses. There's a lot more drunkeness. Some incidents are not credible and are distracting. There is lots more on specific wines, which is great. I completely disagree that the book is poorly written. There are parts that are extremely well-written. Very memorable. You may want to keep a dictionary handy. The first person voice is very much that of writer. A well read one, with a large and expressive vocabulary. Among other things, it is interesting to see where the moviemakers altered and streamlined the novel. The novel "explains" parts of the movie, for instance, some of the motivations of characters that were unclear. But the characters also clearly evolved into different people in the transition from book to movie. The relationship between Jack's wife to be and Miles' former wife is much more developed in the book. Probably unnecessarily. The character of Jack's wife to be is much more three dimensional and explains Jack's character quite a bit, in a way that makes sense. Those that complain about the crudeness, I bet did not like the move either. Sorry, but I am afraid that many men talk and act this way. It rang more or less true to me, although the characters are exaggerated for effect. The conflicts in Miles character are better explained in the book. For instance, his stealing from his Mother. To me the character makes sense. He has great inner conflict and is a good person and a bad person at the same time, as is Jack. This is the way people really are and the book and the movie explore this well. To me there are several big lapses as to Maya in the book--inconsistencies with character. She is still compelling. Virginia Madsen truly deserves kudos. In general, I appreciated the movie even more after reading the book.
I read the whole gosh-aweful thing. Kept hoping that just one more chapter might redeem at least one of the protagonists. Not. Shallow remained shallow.
Not even Scott Brick could entice me to waste time on another work by this author.
A great funny story about two real guys and some great wines. I saw the movie AFTER reading the book and highly recommend that if you haven't yet seen it, avoid the movie. The book has depth and hope and salvation plus a great boar hunt. Not offensive to women as some suggest but realistic and unapologetic aobut both men a women. Oh, and the wine, the sweet, sweet wine.
My expectations for this book were fairly low since wine isn't something I care for, but I wanted something different so I took a chance. The chance really paid off and I loved this book! There are many books out there that delve into friendships between women, but this is the first one that went into the emotions of male friendships and overall male emotions. As an added bonus, I learned some things about wine! Please note that the movie version of this book was awful and didn't capture the emotions of the book. It also left out and changed many significant parts of the book.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys laughing and reminiscing. Excellent story telling .... makes me want to go wine tasting in Norther California <smile>.
Engineer the Bass Player
Both the performance and story were spot-on. While the flaws of both characters can at times lead to head-scratching situations, it's those very flaws that make this book great. The characters are pieces of humanity, perhaps amplified, but humanity nonetheless.
The narrator does a fabulous job capturing the self-indulgent, self-important narcissistic nature of the main characters. If I hadn't paid for this book I would not have finished it. the main characters are neither likeable nor engaging.
Liked the movie, liked the book. Don't usually like Scott Brick, but he did fine in this one, none of those long pauses, no need to speed up the narration.
Scott Brick did a great performance, but the story was overall depressing and cynical. While there were important lessons, it was a drag to follow Miles and Jack. At least they got why was coming to them.
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