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

Mar 232015
 

Liquorature #068 – “Deliverance” (James Dickey)deliverance

Date:  January 23rd, 2015

Host:  Jay

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.

Until next…

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #026 – “Neuromancer” (William Gibson)

Date:  March, 2011

Host – Clint

Whisky:  Bunnahabhain 18, Macallan Cask Strength, Isle of Arran Machrie Moor, Port Ellen 9th Release*, Signatory Springbank 1969*, Brora 30 y.o.*, ADR Bowmore 15 y.o.*, Jamesons Rarest Vintage*, Laphroaig 25 y.o. Cask Strength*, Tullibardine 1966*

Rum:  Flor de Cana 12

 

Poor Ostby.  The lad gets taken to task for his book choices far more than the rest of the crew.  For some reason his selections either incite vigorous polarization or overwhelming disgust.  Thankfully his ‘awww, shucks, fellas’ and ‘I’d never read it before either’ approach allows him to escape the proverbial cross a couple members have debated nailing him to (after ‘Blood Meridian’ and ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ in particular).  All kidding aside though, Clint has brought some great fodder for discussion to the table through his selections.

‘Neuromancer’ came a little out of left field really.  Or so it seemed.  My ignorance blindsided even me, as the more I looked into this seminal work and influential author the more I realized I’d been living in a cave (hopefully not that of Plato’s farcical idiocy).  Let’s face it…Gibson created a monstrously insightful and enigmatic work that set the stage for a legion of followers.  The Liquorature take?  Well…credit where credit is due…the sphere of influence is easily seen in everyday cinematic and literary trappings.  We acknowledged this, but the first comment made on the night was “I want my money back”.

This eloquent turn of phrase can be attributed to none other than the legendary Maltmonster.  For those into cryptozoology, rest easy.  Even Lance must now readily attest that the beast does exist.  Much like seeing the elusive Keenan-Bear, the proof was far too long in the making for some members of Liquorature (Sage Surujbally, in particular).  Long and short, Maltmonster joined us as an Occasional Traveler for the evening’s festivities.  Clint and I approached him several weeks back about sitting in for a night of inebriation and elucidation.  MM was more than receptive to the idea.

For those not so in-the-know, MM is a frequent contributor and resident wit both here on Liquorature and also on ATW (www.allthingswhisky.com).  His caustic humor and appreciation for the finer things in life (not to mention a healthy disdain for cane-based beverages) made him an ideal candidate to be subjected to our lowbrow humor and pseudo-intellect.  We dragged him down to our level with minimal effort, I should add.  No offense, MM.

Ostby laid out the table with a flair for variety.  A rich and delicious Bunnahabhain 18 year old (yep…the re-vamp at 46.3%) first and foremost.  Balanced, deep and gentle.  A deeply-sherried Macallan cask strength next.  Macallan being a favorite of the Maltmonster, incidentally.  Finally, new to our shores, Isle of Arran Machrie Moor, a peated surprise that sadly does not quite have the balls to back its bravado.  Decent…though slightly underwhelming.  For the rumchum…Flor de Cana 12.  Though I desperately wanted to try this one, I simply ran out of time.  No, wait…that’s not right.  Plenty of time.  Simply have better taste than that.  ;)

A pot of seafood gumbo simmered away in a big ‘ol gumbo pot as well.  Hella good, but one can expect no less from Iron Chef Ostby (heretofore known as ‘Bubba Gump’).  The guy is a helluva cook.  If you get an invite to dinner, you’d be sadly remiss to pass on the opportunity.

The consumables didn’t end there however.  MM, in his uber-humble, yet unflinching generosity, brought a sack o’ heels with him.  Heels does not do justice.  These were hefty bottles.  Port Ellen 9 (“all bow,” he said reverentially when presenting to the gang), Brora 30 yo 2005, Laphroaig 25 yo CS, Signatory Springbank 1969, AD Rattray Bowmore 15 yo, Tullibardine 1966, Jameson Special Reserve.  I can attest, as can the rest, not a dud in the lot.  These are damn sexy drams.

Needless to say, while the novel itself was met with a lukewarm reception for the most part, the whisky certainly was not.

Back to the book.  A precursor to the whole cyberpunk movement, Neuromancer’s dark and cold shadow can be seen across many facets of contemporary pop culture.  I dare not draw the comparisons and parallels here that we did as a group, as I sort of think each reader should do that for him/herself.  An overwhelmingly united opinion spoke to the mired tangle of Gibson’s writing (eloquent and sparse, but somehow dense as f*ck to get one’s head around), yet tended towards a solid appreciation of the tale itself.  While not likely to be anyone’s favorite, nor will it become toilet paper for some (as one or two previous selections may have been).  The characters were unique enough to allow a variety of sympathetic to apathetic opinions by the gang.  Come on…who didn’t find Molly sexy?  You’re lying.

What night at Liquorature is complete without the obligatory dropping of the sacred terms?  Wrestling, Mandingo and sigh…Star Trek.  Gad…why this filth permeates such minds is simply beyond me.  The only life forms lower than a Trekkie are George W Bush and Stephen Harper.

Finally…there was the morning after.  Let’s leave that one alone.  What happens at Liquorature…stays at Liquorature.

 

The randoms:  Mel Gibson … the German Shyster … “You sure do got a purty mouth” … “give you the Jimbo” … “Clint…are your plants live?” … “If anyone is gonna insult you, it’s gonna be me” … a flaccid 8 … “drove cabs, smoked pot and lived with a monkey” … the addition of the thumbs up/thumbs down prediction … MM’s ante to the bevy cause*.

 

– Curt