Jan 292016
 

Liquorature Gathering #055 – “The Outsider” (Albert Camus)TheOutsider_Albert_Camus

Date:  August, 2013

Host:  Lorenzo

Whisky:  Glenrothes 1994, Glenrothes 1988, Bruichladdich 1992 Chateau Climens

Rum:  n/a

 

It’s hard to do Camus justice in any real sense.  Such is the nature of existential and psychologically-driven works such as this (or Kafka, etc).  I hadn’t read Camus since high school, at a time when I was voraciously devouring anything I could get my hands on, so Lorenzo’s pick of ‘The Outsider’ (or ‘The Stranger’, depending on which edition you have) arrived with a bit of nostalgic reflection.  This is a touchstone novel for sure, but in terms of proper appreciation I think I honestly prefer ‘The Plague’ a little more than this one.

‘The Outsider’ made me reflect a little on the idea of reality versus expectation.  My wife and I have had debates about this very topic (often coinciding with a remark about the definition of insanity…you know the one), but Camus himself summed it up perfectly: “I summarized The Stranger a long time ago, with a remark I admit was highly paradoxical: ‘In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.’ I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game.

Those of us that take exception to the status quo often find we have to tread lightly in order to avoid the consequences that even the fiercest of assholes seem to somehow elude.  Such is life in this age of internet warriors, armchair experts, instant access to short form information and a cultural polarity that is unprecedented in our time.  So be it.  We get through it.  Let’s use another quote to sum up, this time Lebowski: “The dude abides”.  Yep.  We abide.

Anyway…Camus is never a particularly ‘enjoyable’ read, but that isn’t necessarily the point.  Some authors are more about the message than the tale.  Or maybe a better way to put it would be ‘the destination is more important than the journey’.  I think the Liquorature collective would agree.  They read, discussed and have moved on.  I honestly don’t think this book has been mentioned again since this night.

Having said that, deep subject matter requires deep drinks for intellectual lubrication.  A couple of vintage Glenrothes and an older Bruichladdich were solid accompaniment.  I’m not normally a fan of post ’70s ‘Rothes, but rather enjoyed these two.  And Bruichladdich is usually in my wheelhouse.  This one I was definitely keen on.

Oh yeah, and finally…it’s never bad having an Italian cook dinner for you.  Just saying.  Helluva good gnocchi, Lo.  Well done, mate.

Randoms:  Gnocchi and caperberries … “can we go smoke the skunk?”… the minivan.

 

 – Curt

Jan 272016
 

Liquorature #074 – “Hunger” (Knut Hamsun)Hunger

Date:  July 24th, 2015

Host:  Jay

Whisky:  Cadenhead Glen Keith-Glenlivet 21 y.o., Black Adder Raw Cask Auchentoshan 1991 23 y.o. Cask #3061, Signatory Glenlivet 1981 33 y.o. Cask #9452

 

Jesus suffering fuck.  No need for politically correct niceties here.  This is my site after all.  Where the hell do you come up with these picks, Jay?

This was a deep, dark, existential, Dostoevsky-meets-Camus, slit-your-wrists tale of ludicrous and unrestrained despair.  Mostly of the masochistic and illogical sort.  Starving artist motif be damned, this was an exercise in suspension of disbelief like no other, in which the reader is expected to empathize with decision-making of the most illogical leaps.  If that doesn’t sound like enough of a mindfuck, then wrap your head around this: ‘Hunger’ is a helluva good read, actually.  WTF?!  Exactly.

So what’s it boil down to?  An unhinged, frenetic narrator (albeit likeable for whatever reasons), some Huxley-esque devolutions into acid trip-like surreality (‘Door of Perception’), Strange leaps of logic, an incredible ability to capture the human ‘thought to thought’ mind-wandering transitions, and a truly singular literary experience.  I summed it up before going into this meeting as Huxley meets Salinger meets Kafka meets Dostoyevsky meets Camus meets Cervantes.  Yep.

Let’s not get hung up on the book here, as there really isn’t a way to prepare for this one, so let me just reassure you that while we like to play to themes at Liquorature gatherings, we had no intentions of engaging in any form of self-denial or restraint.  Jay filled our bellies with tasty order-in from Tom’s Pizza, then proceeded to pop the cork on three lovely old single cask independent bottlings.  A Lowlander and a couple of Speysiders.  Real gems, all.  In peering back through the months I cannae rightly recall if there was much left in any of the bottles, but I can only imagine we inflicted some heavy damage, as often happens when the drams are of this calibre.  The book created some division in the ranks; the whiskies certainly did not.

Jay’s streak of truly singular book and malt selection is arguably second to none in the club.  Keep it up, mate.  You’re killing it.

Until next…

Random notes:  Tom’s Pizza rocks … “two degrees of Kevin Bacon” … Seinfeld.

 

– Curt