Southern Belle 2013

DSCN0202 That’s right. ‘Pastoral scene of the gallant south/ the bulging eyes and the twisted mouth’.  I remember that one.  It’s funny the associations you make with some of these McLaren Vale stand-outs.  McLaren Vale

I’ve no idea, but the name for this brilliant shiraz may have something to do with it’s being placed in oak barrels previously containing Kentucky bourbon. Just sort of sleeping in there for a bit.  I like bourbon.  So it nailed it with me.

“Fruitatious” is a word I’ve just invented.  I like it better than “Fruit forward”, which is just the beginning of what this blast of Aussie joy-juice can do for you.  And it’s a whopping 16% alcohol by volume.  Bejeezus, mate.  Stand clear. DSCN0203This James Jean guy is terrific.  James Jean  Talk about designer labeling.  This is a well-capitalized wine.  The Belle Dame carries in her raiment the skulls of her defeated suitors.  As they used to say in the south, and still do, “It is a fine day, sir.”

These images are a bit out of focus and that’s good to remember.  They got that way honestly.  The bottle is empty.  I’ve been to Mclaren Vale and it’s a nice little Vale.  No.  I haven’t been there.  I meant to say it sure would be cool to get down to the hot south and visit Mclaren Vale in old Australia.

‘Strange Fruit’, the work from which the above quotation is taken, was originally a poem written by Allan Lewis, whose real name was, apparently, Abel Meeropol.  Billie Holiday recorded it in song on April 20, 1939.  It was a hit.

It still is.  Thanks for stopping by.


Curtains for Roy“Curtains for Ray,” I said.

“Roy,” he said. And he ought to know. He wrote the book.
Funny things happen to me.  I keep running into people who’ve written books.  I know who they are and what they’ve written but they don’t know me.  Who am I?  I wish I knew.  See ‘Steven Brown’ for details.  It’s somewhere below on this blog reel thingy.  June 15, 2014 entry.

It’s my problem.  I know things.  I know a lot of things.  I knew of this novel and had been interested in reviewing it but my pitch, as they’re called, went unanswered.  But I was still interested in the book.  I looked for it in a large bookstore near here but they didn’t have it.  I forgot about it for a while.

Then, one day, the author of this novel is standing in front of me.  “Aaron?”  I say.

“Yes,” he says.

“I recognized you.  I saw you read at the Writersfest last year.  Curtains for Ray.”

“Roy,” he said.

“Roy,” I said.  “Sorry about that.”

“That’s okay,” he said.  And so it started again.

What started again?  My desire to read this novel.  I believe it to be a slightly neglected novel.  No one writes a novel in the desire that it be slightly neglected.  No publisher, especially these days, publishes a novel desiring it to be slightly neglected.  “Curtains for Roy” was published last year by Cormorant Books.  978-1897151-74-7.

These are strange times.  They may not be stranger than any other times but they are strange in and of themselves, these times.  Completely strange.  Not only will you review a book for free, the publishers of that book will send you a copy for free so you can review it for free.  But content, as every savant knows, is not free.  So what’s going on here?  I wish I knew.

So Aaron Bushkowsky’s publisher’s publicist, a very nice person, mailed to me from mighty Toronto a fine looking copy of “Curtains for Roy” to review on my blog.  Free book.  Free review.

I’ve met somebody else who published with Cormorant.  Can’t remember her name right now.  Two people published by Cormorant but I never published with Cormorant although I tried.  Tried so darn hard.

Publishing is a dire enterprise and a dark, soulless undertaking besides.  Maybe not.  More publishing dreams have been killed by publishers than writers.  I’ll say.  Writing is brutal, nasty and very often a complete failure and failure is painful.  Writing and publishing are the evil twins of the nugatory ur-world of smashed ambition.  Hey, that’s got potential.  You could get used to this.

Anyway, the novel is very good.  I’ve read it and I recommend it.  It’s a very nice looking trade paperback novel, a high quality objet.  Impress your friends.  I wish it was my book, my other novel or either of any of my other novels.  Sure I do.  But it isn’t.  It’s Aaron’s.

There’s no money in novels and anyone calling themselves a publisher is a fool to publish in the genre of literary fiction.  Everybody knows that.  Prepare to be amazed.

Roy is a theatre director with a bad case of cancer.  He’s not going to make it.  His friend, Alex, is a playwright with a bad case of poor reviews.  They’re both pretty choked at the way things are going and decide to cut out for the Okanagan to drink some wine to solve their problems.

Good idea.  ‘If we are to be the martyred slaves of time we must drink continuously’.  Just thought I’d throw that in.  This is my space.  I can do what I want, right?  Free space courtesy of the mighty people at WordPress.  Maybe that’s it.  Everything’s about courtesy.

Buddy novel.  Road trip novel.  Wine novel.  Yes, one is reminded of the movie Sideways.  At least superficially.  Both are about going around to wineries in wine country and sampling the goods.

Some winery wants to put on a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream and it falls to Roy to direct it.  The situation is complicated by Roy’s terminal illness and further complicated by the famous, or infamous, Okanagan Mountain Fire, of fond remembrance, a real event expertly woven into the action of the novel’s second half.

In terms of plot summary that’s all you’re gonna get out of me.  If you like stories set in our own locale, well-written novels of wit and humour semi-neglected or otherwise, I’ve got something for you.  And you know, as I’ve amply demonstrated, I know what I’m talking about.

These Are Not Grapes
These Are Not Grapes

February 25

I didn’t know that. Know that February is 25 today. Congratulations! That’s a nice number.
There’s been some chatter around the site that things can get confusing occasionally with all these fluffy white dogs climbing up everywhere and licking everybody and wagging their tails and looking for treats.

It’s true. It’s totally true.  I’ve felt that way myself.  If it was up to me I’d say ‘Absolutely right.’  Right on.  Righty-O.  Right as rain.

Right As Rain
Right As Rain

You can get kind of addicted to these images.  These strips of, what are they, landscapes?  Panoramas.  Profiles.  I forget the rest.

This Malbec is quite tasty.  And, for reasons not entirely understood, I’m thinking for some reason of Duff Cooper.

Duff Cooper quoted in Alexis Lichine’s Encyclopedia of Wine

“I can truthfully say that since I reached the age of discretion I have consistently drunk more than most people would say was good for me.  Nor do I regret it.  Wine has been to me a firm friend and a wise counselor.  Often wine has shown me matters in their true perspective, and has, as though by the touch of a magic wand, reduced great disasters to small inconveniences.

“Wine has lit up for me the pages of literature, and revealed in life romance lurking in the commonplace.

“Wine has made me bold but not foolish; has induced me to say silly things but not to do them.

“Under its influence words have often come too easily which had better not have been spoken, and letters have been written which had better not have been sent.

“But if such small indiscretions standing in the debit column of wine’s account were added up, they would amount to nothing in comparison with the vast accumulation on the credit side.”

Duff Cooper:  “Old Men Forget”


7:17 pm.  There’s a dog howling around here somewhere, but it’s not ours.  Down below.  It’s an Aussie Dalmation yearning for it’s Aussie master and mistress.  The wind sets fair Saturday and everything is bent for Australia!  Hooray!  Howl howl!




%d bloggers like this: