I am NOT drinking any FUCKING Merlot!
This is a novel that is a typical buddy comedy, dress up as literature, but really just genre fare. I first read this book in 2008, a couple years after I saw the movie. I wasn’t aware that the book even existed, until I saw the movie. So, I gave it a read and found it ultimately to be decent. I decided to re-read it 10 years later and it doesn’t hold up.
It is clearly set in the early 2000’s, two boring aging baby boomers, the majority of which are vacuous cuckholds, decided that they need a “Last Hurrah” before one of them, finally ties the knot. Like two typical high schoolers, because maturity is highly overrated, they go on an excursion in search of debautchy, vino and themselves. How clever and original is that, uh?
Jack is a typical extrovert and Miles the typical introvert whom is a poorly veiled facsimile of the author. It’s classically black and white with little expounded on this tried trope and very cliché. It’s the merlot of “literature” and character development. Although both are ultimately enjoyable to read, because the dialogue between them gives them depth and sounds like these are two people who have known each other for years. There is nothing really to speak about in terms of character archs, nor a satisfactory conclusion. The book is exactly like the film, which is fantastic, because I normally hate when Hollywood strays from the source material. The two most glaring omissions, happen to be the only two most memorable scenes in the book, which are, going night hunting with a young boar hunter and the ending of the book, which is less ambiguous and gives more closure to the story.
The writing is descriptive when it needs to be, albeit with a few errors that were not caught before print. Sadly, the prose isn’t always consistent, nor was the character development. Miles, who goes from “I’m NOT drinking any FUCKING merlot.” To “I like all wines.” Before the book even reaches its climax, isn’t even a fucking character arch. There is also Maya, Miles’ infatuation within the novel, who utters some of the more atrocious dialogue in the book. At one point, after a hot tub fellatio, they adjourn to a room for more privacy, where she ask Miles to “Do what I did to you” but with an overly expensive and rare wine. What the fuck? Miles can say cock, Rex can showcase how many $50 words he knows, but she can’t say “perform cunningligus” or a simple fuckin’ “Lick my cunt”?
Thankfully the poor dialogue is keep to a minimum, but when you come across it, like using the word climax over orgasm, because the “Look how smart I am” bullshit, ego trip, that needed to take precedence over the prose, interjected itself, it takes you out of the novel.
There is also the use deus ex machina, of sorts, where, since the plot is the most important aspect, reality takes a back seat, because a couple of very excessive drunken drivers never deal with any police, except in one scene, involving a fight over Jack’s slut of the moment, firing off a, stolen, rifle in the middle of the hotel parking lot. Also, the amount imbibed would kill a normal human being, yet, with barley a hangover, they survive what is surly alcohol poisoning nearly every night. For the record, the most bottles of any wine I have drunken in a night was three. I then fell asleep, woke up and consumed two bottles of Richard’s Wild Irish Rose. I couldn’t keep water down the next day. I slept until about 3-4 o’clock that day, woke up, had BBQ, then played Call of Duty with a nightcap of whiskey. A very dumb move on my part, but one of the rare times I ever had a hangover or been stupidly drunk in my life, so I should know what too much intoxication is, especially in regards to wine, but real and faux.
Sideways currently has two, unneeded sequels, which I most likely would not bother with. A prequel might have been the better route, giving better development to the two main characters and their long friendship, but ultimately, despite the flaws and not knowing if it wants to be Nabokov or a New York Times Bestseller, plus it’s loquacious chapters, it is still a fun read, so no harm if you want to give it a go.