I came across this book when one of my Wine-Tweeps tweeted out that he was reading it. A sucker for anything literary and anything wine, I immediately threw it into my Amazon cart (along with like a 100-pack of k-cups, a pair of SJ Sharks earrings, new cereal bowls, a dishtowel to clean my Riedel stemware, and a kitchen sink…ah Amazon, the Target of internet shopping…). Not only did I thoroughly enjoy it, I highly recommend it — as a lit lover and as a wine lover.
WARNING: I was pre-disposed to British humour as a young child and have an affinity for blunt, tongue-in-cheek dialogue. I’m also not offended by the obscene, vulgar, or grotesque in writing, film, or life in general.
“Contains content some may find offensive, including but not limited to: the consumption of alcohol significantly in excess of government guidelines; references to sexual activity (both conventional and non-conventional); the causal use of and befuddlement by illegal drugs; disrespect to personnel invovled in law enforcement; blasphemy; words of a sexual and potentially deviant nature; contempt for all norms of ethics and decency. Some vomiting.”
About the Book: Ok, now that we have the warnings out of the way, I can tell you what the book is actually about. Or can I? It’s hard to describe without actually explaining all the little nuances that make up these chapters. But what I can tell you is this…
Felix Hart, through a series of somewhat unfortunate events, finds himself in the wine industry — specifically, wine retail. It doesn’t hurt that he has a natural, shall we say, appreciation for the drink, as well as a pretty refined palate, a combination of formal and informal training on the topic, and a few connections to people already established in the business.
What we have in Felix Hart is a “Bugs Bunny” character, one who takes advantage of every person and every situation to climb up the wine-buying ladder. He’ll come across as selfish, self-serving, and sometimes just plain rude.He can be careless in his actions and, at times, ignorant of the consequences even as they affect him. And yet he’s quite adroit and, as our main character and hero, you can’t help but love and root for him.
What You’ll Learn: There are crazy antics that take place all over the world as Felix gets promoted from one position to the next and is sent on various “business” trips to “research” and buy wine. And because this book, at times, reads like a cartoon (you’ll find yourself wondering how much of this could happen in real life), you are probably asking, “Stacy, what can one possibly learn from this?”
It depends how loosely you like to use the word “learn.” For me, a self-proclaimed book-nerd and wanna-be wine-snob, I will make the argument that you can “learn” about different varietals. Personally, I’m a home-grown Cali girl. Sure, I’ve traveled to Italy, had wines from outside the Golden State, but I’d be lying if I said my speciality isn’t in California wine. Reading about Felix’s travels, just reading the names of some of the (for me) more obscure varietals, was a joy.
Go ahead, without using Google, name a South African winery. An Australian varietal that isn’t Shiraz? What’s the most abundant grape grown in England?
Hey, if I can learn a few new words or varietals and have some reading pleasure…Who was it that said great literature was meant to “teach and entertain”?
Wine Pairing: What pairs well with the crazy antics of Felix Hart? You could go one of two directions here.
Grab a bottle of some obscure varietal from an unknown vintner and just have a go. Take some ostentatious notes and see if you remember what they mean in the morning.
Grab a bottle that you know so well, you might as well name your first born after it. Tuck yourself under a blanket, and just read like the lazy bum you’ve always wanted to be.
More Info: The author, Peter Stafford-Bow, writes under a pen-name so he may have written other books that I just don’t know about. But, I enjoyed Corkscrew so much, I’m hoping this Peter-persona takes another stab at this writing thing. Should Felix make another appearance? I’m not so sure. This seems like a one and done novel. I’m not going to lie though, should the author release a sequel, it’ll go straight into my Amazon cart (along with some toothpaste, dish soap, that weight set that’s been in my “save for later” section, and maybe that comic that’s been in my wish list….)
For more information about the author, Please visit Peter Stafford-Bow’s website. I purchased Corkscrew ($13) on Amazon (along with any other home goods or personal items you may need).
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