Date: January 23rd, 2015
Whisky: Roughstock Montana Whiskey Black Label Single Malt, Cadenhead Linkwood-Glenlivet 26 y.o., Signatory Laphroaig 17 y.o. Cask #8519
Even before we got together for this gathering members were referring to it as a BYOL event. “Bring Your Own Log”. If you’ve seen the film adaptation you’re probably experiencing an involuntary sphincter clenching imagining Ned Beatty’s character getting bent over a fallen tree and…well…
I was hoping that if I didn’t bring my log I could avoid joining in on the ‘festivities’, if you will, and am happy to report I left with my dignity (and other things) completely intact. I did bow out a little earlier than some though, so won’t speak for the others. (Anyone hear them banjos?)
In all honesty, before Jay announced this as his selection I’m not even sure more than one or two of the crew knew that this was a book. The film has become such a touchstone of American culture that the original source material seems almost an afterthought. While the book does show up in the Modern Library Top 100 novels list, it’s certainly no mainstay of contemporary Literature. Even finding a copy was difficult for some.
If you’re anything like me, cynicism steps forth here and asks how much merit there can be in a book like this that seems so much a periphery chunk of writing in comparison to the film adaptation. Is the novel merely the skeleton of a good tale, poorly written, but easily co-opted for other medium? Is the film so good that it monolithically overshadows the merits of bound page? These were questions I had percolating as I walked into this one, before even turning a page.
I’m happy to report that any concerns over lack of literary merit were completely unfounded. Put simply: this is a great book. Solidly written, evocative and engaging, rich in tone and timbre and with a momentum that continues to ramp up as the story unfolds. It starts off a little slowly – in a very late ’60s or early ’70s ‘disillusioned with the worldhood of the world’ kinda vibe – before rolling out into the lush green wilds of the deep South. Hillbilly style.
Jay hunted for the closest possible approximation of moonshine he could find, and while he did come up with a jug of high test juice from the US (actually a classy bottle; no mason jar here), it fell flat in one respect. Moonshine is supposed to be rotgut poison nasty. This stuff was incredibly well made whiskey from Montana’s Roughstock Distillery. The Black Label Single Malt Cask Strength comes highly recommended from this crew. Top that off with a beautifully pungent 17 year old indie Laphroaig and a sweet soft 26 year old Linkwood (also indie) and we had a night of drinks to remember. Good selections, Jay.
This was another pick that received pretty much universal acclaim from the Liquorature guys. A very phallicentric tale, to be sure, but with some broader appeal too.
Randoms: “a civilized cornholing” … “that’s what Bobby said” … the Bobby suit.