The Austin Chronicle

Food for Thought: Summer Reading

Reviewed by Wes Marshall, June 1, 2012, Food

The Juice, Vinous Veritas

by Jay McInerney (Knopf, $26.95, 304 pp)

Jay McInerney is the author of seven novels, the big one being his first, Bright Lights, Big City. He writes a wine column for The Wall Street Journal and regularly travels the world meeting great winemakers, tasting their rarest wines, and eating at the finest local restaurants. He maintains two residences in the U.S., in both Manhattan and Bridge­hamp­ton (Manhattan can be such a bore in the summer and the Hamptons are so amusing). What makes him lucky is that he has the uncanny ability to sell almost everything he writes twice. Such is the case with his new book, The Juice, Vinous Veritas; virtually all of the chapters have appeared previously in either The Wall Street Journal or House & Garden.

Normally, I might complain about this double dip into the shallow pool of our resources. The infuriating thing is he just happens to be the best wine writer in the U.S., perhaps in the English language. He has an amazing ability to mangle a metaphor/simile/analogy into impossibly precise descriptions of wine's flavors and aromas, often using comparisons from either music or classic literature. And the fact is, I would almost pay the price of the book just for his introduction. I won't spoil it, but in just over seven pages McInerney unapologetically tells about his days of learning about wine. It's a short and self-contained masterpiece with a brilliant ending. I just wish the man would write a real book. This is knit together nicely. One person wrote it, so there are connecting tissues. But if he could take the power he develops in the seven-page introduction, and turn it into 300 pages of emotional ups and downs crowned with a little romance, he could be writing a classic for the ages. He is capable of that. Maybe he could stay home this summer.

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