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Featured Review

From Amazon.com: Rich Dillon
I received a reviewer copy of VERTICAL, and was surprised to find out that the novel was a sequel to the the very successful movie, SIDEWAYS. I was so enamored of the movie, the fact that it was from a novel completely slipped by me. The movie was so good and so “original,” I think I assumed that Alexander Payne’s script was also “original.”

Not so. Turns out master Rex Pickett wrote SIDEWAYS, and now gives us the brand-spanking-new sequel, VERTICAL!

VERTICAL traces another MIles/Jack semi-insane road trip through wine country. This time it is up to Oregon and the gorgeous Willamette Valley. With Miles’ mom Phyllis and her dog Snapper in tow, the idea is for Miles to knock off a speaking engagement for the IPNC, the apparently wild International Pinot Noir Celebration, and then deliver mom to Wisconsin to spend out her final years with her sister.

It was a joy to reacquaint myself with the movie characters, Miles and Jack. Indeed, I couldn’t read VERTICAL without hearing the unique voices of Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church as they shared their own “lingua franca.” Jack’s dry comebacks are always a match for Miles intellectual snippets.

I feel VERTICAL delivered on what would have to be a challenging sequel of a very successful movie. The hilarious mishaps, epic philandering, and the light social treachery of the movie, seemed to erase any footprints Rex Pickett might be able to use in a followup. Not so. Pickett delivers on a broader story, a more human story, and much closer look at MIles’ real problem: himself.

The vineyard and winery scenes are what you might expect if you have seen the movie. Them Wine Folks sure know how to rip open a bacchanal and bare it to its juicy purple bones! The “dunking” scene goes beyond the “spit bucket” audacity of the movie.

The book ends in an extremely poignant moment with Miles and his mother.

What Miles learned from mom on the trip, as he gets by the early pain of alcohol withdrawal, and makes it to the revelations of his newly sober mind, changes everything.

VERTICAL has whetted my appetite for Rex Pickett’s talents, and I plan on reading SIDEWAYS soon!