This new collection by the acclaimed novelist—and, according to Salon, “the best wine writer in America”—is generous and far-reaching, deeply knowledgeable and often hilarious.
For more than a decade, Jay McInerney’s vinous essays, now featured in The Wall Street Journal, have been praised by restaurateurs (“Filled with small courses and surprising and exotic flavors, educational and delicious at the same time” —Mario Batali), by esteemed critics (“Brilliant, witty, comical, and often shamelessly candid and provocative” —Robert M. Parker Jr.), and by the media (“His wine judgments are sound, his anecdotes witty, and his literary references impeccable” —The New York Times).
Here McInerney provides a master class in the almost infinite varieties of wine and the people and places that produce it all the world over, from the historic past to the often confusing present. From such legendary châteaus as Margaux and Latour and Palmer to Australia and New Zealand and South Africa, to new contenders in Santa Rita Hills and Paso Robles, we learn about terroir and biodynamic viticulture, what Champagnes are affordable (or decidedly not), even what to drink over thirty-seven courses at Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli—in all, an array of grapes and wine styles that is comprehensive and thirst inducing. And conspicuous throughout is McInerney’s trademark flair and expertise, which in 2006 prompted the James Beard Foundation to grant him the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
About Jay McInerney
Jay McInerney lives in Manhattan and Bridgehampton, New York. He writes a wine column for The Wall Street Journal and is a regular contributor to The Guardian and Corriere della Sera, and his fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Playboy, Granta, and The Paris Review. In 2006, Time cited Bright Lights, Big City as one of nine generation-defining novels of the twentieth century, and The Good Life received the Prix Littéraire at the Deauville Film Festival in 2007. How It Ended: New and Collected Stories (2009) “reminds us,” Sam Tanenhaus wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “how impressively broad McInerney’s scope has been and how confidently he has ranged across wide swaths of our national experience.”
Though McInerney has achieved more renown as a novelist (How It Ended, 2009, etc.), many readers and fellow writers might be more envious of his side job, as a wine columnist for House & Garden (where many of the older, longer and more substantial of these pieces appeared) and then for the Wall Street Journal. As someone who admits that he “had a reputation as a party animal; no one had ever accused me of being a connoisseur,” he brings plenty of knowledge and experience with wine to the beat, though he’s still more interested in the sort of expensive pleasures in which most folks can’t afford to indulge than in a consumer-guide approach. “Is any of this relevant to the average wine lover, as opposed to the wealthy collector?” he writes at one point. “I think it is, in several ways. Just as developments in Formula One race cars eventually inform the engineering of the cars the rest of us drive every day, just as haute couture trickles down into the wardrobes of those who have never attended a fashion show”—and so on. “Yes, there’s some wine porn here,” he confesses, though much of the most interesting writing concerns the people who make wine, those who love it and the places where it flourishes rather than the actual experience of drinking it. The book also chronicles the maturation of the writer’s appreciation, from the “flash and flesh” of “big ripe fruit bombs” to more subtle and sophisticated rewards. – Kirkus Reviews
The Juice: Vinous Veritas by Jay McInerney
Barnes & Noble Review – May 28, 2012 (Excerpt)
Once upon a time, and not so long ago, Jay McInerney was a relative innocent when it came to wine, an enthusiastic amateur willing to see if there was a silver lining in pretty much any bottle by drinking it. Sometimes he would turn up gold in unexpected places, and readers of his wine columns, first in House & Garden and then in The Wall Street Journal, cashed in. The Juice, his third collection of wine writings, has a few surprises, too — the Te Mura Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc for one, “farmer fizz” for another — but chances are better he is tipping Latour or Angelo Gaja or a single-vineyard, vintage champagne into the glass. No surprises there.
Earlier on as well, there was a pleasing inclusiveness. Maybe because it felt like if McInerney could find his way through the minefield of wine without losing a foot, so could you. Maybe because of the impression that he was happy — though some of the mornings-after must have been trying — and happy to share the good fortune of these assignments. Plus, he was and is an artful storyteller: while they may have been word-pinched squibs, the pieces surged with incident, landscape, sensuousness, and a winning humor.
The Juice has plenty going for it, including that storytelling. McInerney still has a sui generis touch when it comes to describing wines: a Sauvignon Blanc that tastes like “just about everything you might find on Carmen Miranda’s hat,” or the barnyard funk of a rustic Cornas, or an Australian bruiser that serves as “the vinous equivalent of a 1966 Pontiac GTO.” He works hard to understand the mysteries of terroir, and he puts the thumbscrews to biodynamic farming, hoping it will reveal the witch in its craft (biodynamics ain’t spilling those beans). He steers readers toward the wonders of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blends, which “like crows and owls, are rarely seen together.” And you have to love the story of McInerney sitting in the legendary hangout Elaine’s with his glass of Pinot Grigio, while the next table over Norman Mailer and Gay Talese are pounding highballs. [Read the full article...]
DOODLEBUGS & SPITFIRES Memories and Short Stories by Peter Carroll
“Doodlebugs & Spitfires” is a delightful collection of memories and short stories written by Peter Carroll, the author of “Queen of Misfortune,” in his trademark poetic and profoundly thoughtful style.
Most of his stories, previously published in limited form in local English newspapers and magazines, like “Brave New World”, “The Forties Street Tradesmen”, “Doodlebugs”, or “The Christmas of 43” evolve around his childhood in the Northern part of London during and after World War II. He describes the horrors that came with the V1 flying bombs, nicknamed the “Doodlebugs.” Heroic British pilots in their “Spitfire” airplanes would attempt to divert the flying bombs from the populated areas, sometimes successful, and sometimes not.
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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