On Saturday October 15th, Rex Pickett and Loose Gravel Press LLC will officially release Vertical: Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail, the sequel to the wildly popular Sideways movie and book. In a major plot twist Miles Raymond is now famous after the release of the film version to his novel "Shameless" and Jack is down on his luck, divorced and jobless. As you guessed Shameless is Sideways, the story of two friends on a bachelor party weekend in Santa Barbara Wine Country wine country. How much Miles' fictional success follows Pickett's actual life story would be an interesting discussion.
Like the original, Vertical's backbone is wine country. This adventure involves Miles and Jack transporting his wheelchair-bound mother Phyllis to Wisconsin through Oregon's Willamette Valley where Miles is Master of Ceremonies at the International Pinot Festival. Phyllis has suffered a stroke and wants to ditch her assisted living facility to live with her sister. Their journey starts with a brief return trip to Beullton, where the reader is introduced to Miles intoxication with celebrity life as well as the self-induced comic situations that the duo encounter.
After a stressful trip, they eventually arrive in Oregon and the reader is introduced to the Willamette Valley wine scene - but only casually. Instead, the real focus of the book has become apparent, and that is relationships - those between friends, caregivers, and most importantly between a stoke impaired mother and son. The "life is stranger than fiction" escapades keeps the readers attention, but it's the story of how Miles adapts to these situations and his out of control personal life that is most relevant. For that reason, Vertical is not only an enjoyable read, but also a bit introspective - particularly the finale.