SIDEWAYS by Rex Pickett


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A fresh take on an evergreen: two men—one just divorced, one about to marry—spend a week together testing, then tying up, the bonds of their friendship.

Credit screenwriter Pickett for coming up with a debut that goes some distance before readers realize they’re on the road again in another buddy story (this one bought prepublication by Fox Searchlight Pictures). Pickett’s narrator, Miles Raymond, enlists sympathy and interest as a man riven by divorce, a writer shaken by rejections, and a wine expert sodden from too much hands-on research. Raymond’s bemused, literate observations make his account of a week spent with his friend Jack funny and perceptive. Miles and Jack, who’s about to marry, head out to celebrate Jack’s final week of bachelorhood in California’s Santa Ynez wine country. A handsome, seductive actor, Jack wants—surprise!—to spend this last week of freedom in sexual debauchery. Sensitive Miles tries to restrain him, but it’s useless—Jack and a comely blond go off and make bedroom noise. Miles isn’t alone: he’s met a woman who’s attracted to him, but he holds back, pondering the eternals: Would marriages survive if wives let their overcharged husbands fool around? Can friendships, marriages, and, yes, love itself, endure? Before matters turn ponderous, Miles and Jack decide to go hunting for wild boar with a kid they meet in a bar. The hunting scene and then another tryst between Jack and a zaftig waitress edge matters into the realm of slapstick and bedroom farce (movies are about action, after all). The week over, Jack heads to the altar with a broken nose and rib, while Miles decides to take Jack’s advice and make a date with the woman he met in wine country.

Skillful work about a friendship between two ultimately likable guys. But the movie will need zingers—the dialogue here is only adequate.

Pub Date: June 16th, 2004
ISBN: 0-312-32466-9
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2004


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