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Bored by conventional wine writing? Read this

July 21, 2012 | 11:01 am

Melrose coverMy summer binge reading has been the brilliant Patrick Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn, all four of them, plus, the newly publish fifth, “At Last.” They’re harrowing and hilarious, and the prose is breathtaking. 

Bored by conventional wine writing? Read this passage from the second of the novels, “Bad News.” In New York to see to his father’s remains, the young, drug-addled main character, Patrick Melrose, slips into a high-end restaurant for dinner alone, and orders a Corton Charlemagne. (Keep in mind that he has had a privileged, albeit brutal, upbringing.)

“The first taste made him break into a grin of recognition, like a man who has sighted his lover at the end of a crowded platform. Raising the glass again, he took a large gulp of the pale yellow wine, held it in his mouth for a few seconds, and then let it slide down his throat. Yes, it worked, it still worked. Some things never let him down.

"He closed his eyes and the taste rippled over him like an hallucination. Cheaper wine would have buried him in fruit, but the grapes he imagined now were mercifully artificial, like earrings of swollen yellow pearls. He pictured the long sinewy shoots of the vine, dragging him down into the heavy reddish soil. Traces of iron and stone and earth and rain flashed across his palate and tantalized him like shooting stars. Sensations long wrapped in a bottle now unfurled like a stolen canvas.

"Some things never let him down. It made him want to cry.”

Good, eh?


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-- S. Irene Virbila

Image: Scan of  "The Patrick Melrose Novels" cover. Credit: Picador Paperback