Favorit(ish) book (you can never actually choose): The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Favorit(ish) wine (you can never actually choose): J. Lohr Pinot Noir
I wanted that front and center, because before we begin, there are favorite books and favorite wines, but they’re always favoritish. (It’s a new word. Don’t knock it.) Sometimes you’re in the mood for a deep broody book or wine, and sometimes you’re in the mood for something more fun and a bit flirty. These tend to change with the seasons, but also with what’s going on, what you’re doing, how much you’re working, etc.
Right now, even though the weather has only dipped below 80 and the days are still long, I’m longing for some of that broody. Right now, I’m calling The Secret History and a damn fine Pinot Noir my favoritishes.
This was actually my third reread of The Secret History, in anticipation of The Goldfinch coming out last month. (Yes, a review will be up next week. Yes, it will be soaked in booze, like the book, though not drugs.)
With really great books like this, every reread actually feels different. There are different parts to tease out and different lines of tension and foreshadowing that you didn’t notice. It also gives you more time to soak in the language which, for The Secret History, is crucial.
I’m not even going to tell you a synopsis for the book because it’s honestly a bit off-putting, or was for me at least. Instead the feelings: ice cold winter days, long discussions steeped in Greek history and language, conspiracies, the egotism of youth, the way one moment can change a life, the way one decision can change a town. The book itself is a marvel of characterization, suspense, and writing that is more poetry than prose.
“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”
“It is easy to see things in retrospect. But I was ignorant then of everything but my own happiness, and I don’t know what else to say except that life itself seemed very magical in those days: a web of symbol, coincidence, premonition, omen. Everything, somehow, fit together; some sly and benevolent Providence was revealing itself by degrees and I felt myself trembling on the brink of a fabulous discovery, as though any morning it was all going to come together–my future, my past, the whole of my life–and I was going to sit up in bed like a thunderbolt and say oh! oh! oh!”
Now for the wine. It must be extremely drinkable, for those moments when you lounge in between the spaces of the words. It must be broody though as well. A chardonnay would fairly ruin the whole thing.
And so, I turn to an old favorite–Pinot Noir–but with a fine, balanced example of the variety with J. Lohr’s. It’s got a bit of fruit, but also a deeper earthiness with soft tannins and a taste of herbs on the finish.
If you’re not a fan of reds, you could also go with a fantastically dry Greek white wine, like those from Santorini which taste lightly of minerals from the volcanic soil. Very fitting indeed.
Have you read The Secret History? What’s your favorite wine for a deep broody book?