Jan 262015
 

Liquorature #066 – “The Old Man And The Sea” (Ernest Hemingway)the-old-man-and-the-sea

Date:  November 21st, 2014

Host:  Steve

Whisky:  Glenmorangie Companta, Glenmorangie 18, Black Bull 12, Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask

 

Steve’s turn to take us on a bit of a journey.  This time way out beyond where the land still exerts pull.  We found ourselves rocked on the waves with old Santiago as he puts his will up against that of the majestic marlin.  The isolation and calm test of man against nature (and himself) set a tone here that hints at the sort of deep Americana we’re bound to encounter in an upcoming tale or two for the Liquorature few.

This was Steve’s first run at hosting, meaning his first go at all the stress that goes into good book, drink and food selection.  That’s not to belittle the importance of being prepared to steer a solid conversation on topical subject matter related to the book at play.  As it turns out, this one was a knockout evening.  Steve had had a long, long while to prepare for this one.  He initially announced this selection before the Liquorature Dark Ages.  When all collapsed, it seemed as though the club would go to its grave without tackling one of the literary greats of our age.  Steve was more disappointed than you can imagine.  When we pulled the Lazarus act, it was a no brainer that this would be his selection.  Et voila!  Marlin was back on the menu.

I’ve made mention before of not knowing how we’d made it so far into our journey without tackling Hemingway.  I know a few of us are Hemingway junkies, while several others have mentioned mulling over selecting one of his works.  Until now, however, this was nothing more than lip service.

You always wonder with a name as iconic as Hemingway’s whether or not people will be overly critical going into it and come out the other side going “hmmmm…really?  Is that it?”  I’m happy to say that Hemingway did not disappoint in the least.  I’m pretty certain there was universal acclaim for this one.  The simple tale and Hemingway’s signature spartan prose made this one a tale of pure and austere classic beauty for all.  Symbolic and parabolic at once.  The criticisms – which I no longer recall – were so slight as to be negligible.  A couple of the fellas even mentioned recommending it on to their significant others.  Impressive, for a very phallocentric author, often accused of misogyny.  Sometimes a story is simply transcendent.

“The Old Man And The Sea” is a must read.  Honestly.  There is more packed into these 100 or so pages than in most epics you’re liable to plow through.  Hemingway really was a master.

And playing to thematics – as we’re wont to do with this quirky crew – Steve kicked things off with a Black Bull blended whisky (remember: Hemingway was a bullfighting junkie).  From there we hit a Balvenie Caribbean Cask (to bring a little tropical influence to a topical tale), then on into the new Glenmorangie Companta.  This latter I can no longer recall the rationale for selection, but it was a fun, tasty one to sweeten things up.  Big fruits and infinite gooey dessert-ness.  We snacked the night away and Hemingway’d the bottles as best we could.  Discussion was lively…service was paid.

Great night all in all.

Random notes:  “Ahh…you poor bastard.  Just cut the rope.” … “not so Santiago” … “Orphanage: an Indian word for ‘sweatshop'” … “Before you say anything…”

 

– Curt

Jan 022015
 

“The Abominable” (Dan Simmons)the-abominable-dan-simmons-663x1024

Not.  What.  You’d.  Think.

Let’s start there.  I am only on page 125 of 663 and, though I don’t really know where we’re going from here, I can unequivocally state that I am both beyond impressed and still not being chased by a yeti.  All joking aside, I have no idea how the title will play into this one, but there is no hint so far of anything from the realms of cryptozoology.  But, man…what a tale already.  Austerely written and hearkening back to a time and place nearly 100 years behind us, you need to go into this one expecting something other than an all out footrace from the get go.  There is a slow build and development, but if you’re anything like me you’ll find it well worth the effort.

Before I go on, let me share the teaser from the publisher:  “June 1924. On the brutal North East Ridge of Mount Everest, famous adventurers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine vanish into the snow-whipped night.

Daredevil explorer Richard Deacon devises a plan to follow in the men’s footsteps, accompanied only by two friends. Off piste and with no support team, the three men strike for Everest’s peak and the most vicious climate on earth.

As the winds rise and the temperature and oxygen levels drop, Deacon and his companions hear howls in the distance. Some dark creature is tracking them up the mountain, sending them scrabbling blindly into Everest’s dangerous heights to escape it.

Soon they will discover what happened to Mallory’s crew – but can they escape the same hideous fate?

A gripping thriller by a master of the genre, The Abominable blends historical fact with spine-tingling drama – this is one of the most chilling and unforgettable novels you will ever read.

Now…I am an absolute Everest junkie.  Actually, anything to do with high altitude mountaineering.  Combine that with a tight plotline and a bedrock rooted in actual history (albeit speculatively so), and I’m hooked.  Utterly hooked.

Can’t wait to see where this one takes me, but I’m galloping through pages at a righteous pace.  More to come.

 

– Curt

Jan 022015
 

Liquorature #065 – “The Stars My Destination”the stars my destination

 

Date:  October 24th, 2014

Host: Scott

Whisky: Mortlach Rare Old, Balblair 1989, Nikka Taketsuru 21 y.o.

 

Back to back forays into the realms of deep space. Sci-fi is starting to hold a little more clout with a few of us old codgers in the club who ignorantly initially mistook it for prepubescent nerd porn and summarily dismissed most of the genre out of hand. Thankfully a few of the literati in Liquorature have seen fit to force their agenda down our throats with their selections and catapult us into the stars (and the future).

Scott announced his selection just as I did, neither of aware that the other was going deep space on the crew.  So be it.  Two months in a row of escaping the third stone from the sun.  God knows with the life most of us lead we can use the ultimate escapism.  You may recall last month’s ‘Star Maker’ was about as much fun as an anesthetic-free vasectomy.  It delivered in terms of message but left us lurching to the finish line due to its incredibly dry pacing and method of delivery.  I think a few of us were somewhat reticent to pick up another book with ‘star’ in the title so soon after.

Happy to say ‘The Stars My Destination’ started off fast and immediately picked up speed.  This pseudo anarchistic dystopian romp pretty much had all of us at ‘hello’.  I think the breakneck pace and instantly imaginable characters had something to do with that, but let’s not sell short the fact that the story itself was immensely engaging and, like much good science fiction, the speculative nature and forward thinking led us all to pause for a moment and try to take ourselves back to 1957, the time of writing.

As is often the case with these sorts of tales, imaginative discussion is often lubed with a few drams of something strong and neat.  Scott picked out a few new ones for us (new to club members, that is).  Highlight for this guy had to be the Nikka Taketsuru 21, with a nose to die for.  The Balblair wasn’t far behind.  We were on relatively good behaviour, but have happily happened Ginger work through these bottles in the days since this gathering.

Great choices for this month, Buddha; drinks and book. Look forward to seeing where you take us next time.

…Having said all of that, I can’t but help feel relieved to place my feet back on terra firma (or at least adrift upon a fishing boat) with next month’s selection of “The Old Man And The Sea”.

The randoms: Blind tasting … “jaunt savant” … “need a nipple for that?” … “jaunt with Jiz” …

Until next…

 

– Curt