(with a side of Shobbrook)
About two weeks ago, I decided I was going to focus on my job and dropped three out of four study units for my masters of teaching. Before I did that, I was on track to finish this year.
It’s Monday today and I’ve spent the morning begrudgingly trying to catch up with the single unit of study I kept. I flick between the multiple tabs I have open in my browser: clothing I don’t need sitting in an online shopping cart, obscure Italian wines I can’t afford and an online tutorial about the accreditation process for casual teaching.
I stare at my phone, wondering how everyone else is working from home and embracing new modes of communication while I remain terrified of answering a phone call. I much prefer to hide in the text world or premeditated voice mail.
It’s midday and a text comes through from what can only be described as a wise old friend. His words are thoughtful and his message is clear: ‘Write more. Read more. Write more!!”
I feel the rush of kindness sweep over me in that warm and comforting way you experience kindness when you least expect it. It’s the same way it feels when someone asks how you are and you can tell they mean it with genuine concern and care.
Perhaps it is being caught unawares, or perhaps its simply being alone for the first time in a while, maybe it’s the beginning of some kind of process or maybe just where I am in my cycle today but my heart heaves and my tears flow freely. It feels good and I sit in this feeling for a bit.
I can’t remember how I first came across Lily King but I read only a short blurb on Euphoria before knowing I needed it immediately. I ordered it online and devoured with gusto one perfect afternoon with a bottle of Poolside first in the garden and continued into the late evening on the couch.
Euphoria transports the reader to the South Pacific in the 1930s and weaves a compelling tale of three anthropologists who simultaneously experience the strangeness of foreign cultures and the murky nature of the relations between themselves.
There are many beautiful passages in this book but one of my favourites reads as follows:
‘Was she wine or bread to you?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘It’s from an Amy Lowell poem we all loved in college. Wine is sort of thrilling and sensual, and bread is familiar and essential.’
I loved this book most for the rendering of its characters in such unflinching terms. They are flawed and un/forgivable, wholly human in every respect. This is an easy but thoughtful read. You should start here with Lily King first.
Poolside’s strange and funky chilled pink fizz and interesting perfume will serve you well as an accompaniment on your journey to the tropics.
I picked up King’s most recent book, Writers & Lovers about a week ago from a wonderful friend who also happens to work in a bookshop. I can’t decide whether I loved it as much as or more than Euphoria. Writers and Lovers is built on King’s trademark tight prose but this time with a little more scope for humour and every day drama.
For me, it captured a similar zeitgiest to Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation which I loved even more knowing how much it pissed so many people off for being boring/indulgent/incomprehensible/about a middle-class-20/30-something-year-old woman who willfully commits to doing nothing.
Here, King explores similar themes to Euphoria such as love and desire but this time in a city setting through the eyes of Casey, who works in a restaurant, pursues a series of love affairs and writes her novel in her mornings off.
I particularly reveled in the recounting of restaurant scenes such as these:
‘Welcome to brunch. I’ve got to be right places all at once, up and down, and I get stiffed if I’m not. Sometimes I have to leave a plate of pancakes under the heat lamp for three minutes. I’d like to see you try it. All you do is stand back there and crack eggs and shit all over people.’
‘Angus, my only ally in the kitchen when Thomas isn’t cooking, lets out a long whistle.
Clark whips around and tells him to shut the fuck up.
‘I’m going to get you fired, you litte ****’
‘I’m not scared of a fucking brunch chef,’ I say and push past him to get my order.
Don’t fear though, it’s not all kitchens and swearing. In the end, we understand it’s more something of a coming of age kind of story, the archetypal swinging between futures that is seemingly common to an entire generation (or is it just me?).
The prose is peppered with many little gems of insight, sweet reminders of the loveliness of life despite the rest. And these lovely moments are perfectly suited with a glass of one of Elisabetta Foradori’s enchanting wines.
Whether you know a single thing about wine or not, you will not find much about Elisabetta to dislike. I first discovered her wine in the restaurant I work where I would squirrel a magical sip of Manzoni Bianco whenever I could. It was the first wine that made me truly curious about how it is made and who it’s producer was.
Drinking her wine, in this case the Manzoni Bianco, alongside a meal is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself in the current life and times. As this particular wine temperate changes, it’s perfume and texture continue to give a truly interesting and complex wine experience. I’ll never forget the first time I had a chance to drink the bottle during a long lunch at Labart last year. I was completely besotted.
Foradori wines are grown in the foothills of the Dolomites (!!) by Elisabetta and two of her hot sons. Even her website is a gloriously joyful experience and you can read all about the ways she is stewarding her land with the very best biological farming practices.
Foradori wines are the height of romantic-wine-girl-wet-dreams and in this case, the quality of the wines, matches the hype. Get on board.
At present, I have a bottle of Lezer (which was the best thing to happen to me on my very last work shift) waiting in the fridge and I actually can’t wait for knock-off time this afternoon.
Lily and Elisabetta are a match made in heaven, both masters of their craft and capable of distilling the vast complexities of the world into thoroughly enjoyable and digestible slices of the good life. Apply liberally.