Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This little piggie went to market

Market is a euphemism for slaughter in the nursery rhyme you know.

The trouble with Nonfiction books is the cult of expertise. Readers of nonfiction take extreme pleasure in not only education, but in the creation of formidable opinions. The best-selling nonfiction writers, in nearly every genre, have an ax to grind and a high pedestal, academic, political, or financial, upon which to grind it.

Which is fine, so long as they don't hide behind the disingenuous smugness of objectivity still being taught, even this very day!, in our fine institutions of higher learning!

But, for people like me, who have managed to avoid expertise, selling a nuanced and private matrix of responses on a given subject can be tricky, can be excruciating, can be gloomy, but can be done.

Travel Writing is the genre of nonfiction (not counting Memoir, which I judge as fiction) which most commonly aspires to and achieves literary value, in the same way that a walk up the street can become a poem, but 6 years in graduate school cannot. Travel is thin enough for aesthetics.

Which is all something of an aside to the task at hand. The proposal continues to acquire dark and terrible life.

Positioning/Market Potential

365 Crush is a coat of many colors.

Its conceit belongs to the great tradition of intellectual adventuring. William Least-Heat Moon’s Blue Highways, and Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail are stellar examples of this writerly mode. A goal is vaguely and arbitrarily set, while still containing enormous personal importance, and a small but vital set of rules are established to govern and guide the action. The central notion of 365 Crush, a year spent following the wine harvest across the entire globe, would certainly appeal to readers accustomed to traveling with their heads more than just attached to their bodies.

In subject, 365 Crush courts that overlapping triumvirate of interests: Wine, Food, and Travel. The global scope of the endeavor, taken, as it shall be, by a young man with little means through wildly diverse geographical, economic, and political climes, will pique the armchair Magellan.

As the focus of the narrative is on wine as a conduit of culture, as a paragon of place, and due to my lusty gastronomical proclivities and the opportunities they provide for lush prose, food will be an important and constant presence—either that or I’ll starve. Wine may buy the ticket, but Food will schlep the luggage.

Most pointedly, 365 Crush seeks to set-off a series of landmines throughout the world of wine. As the founder of a small, family vineyard and proto-winery in Kansas, I view many of the fetishes, arguments, and fortunes commonly held profoundly askance. My position, and my person, is playful, radical, and rooted in an agrarianism oddly absent from discussions of terroir. Imagine Wendell Berry, Edward Abbey, M.F.K. Fisher, and Umberto Eco trapped in Napa Valley, tooling around in a temperamental ’47 Studebaker, and you’ll get some idea of the voices that guide my pen.

The thread that stitches this patchwork together is fine, ample, and seductive writing. Writing that, as the cliché artists invariably demand, must be experienced, and can be, in the sample chapter.


As is probably apparent, I survive this process thru an ever-evolving series of private jokes, grand, ridiculous gestures, and bad puns. I do and do not, in equal measure, believe anything I write in this proposal.


chopova said...

bulgaria has a long tradition in wine making:

Whim said...

Thank you, Anna! The exact schedule is still very much in flux.

Kyle said...

Not to push yet another so-called expert on you, but before heading to Cyprus I recommend reading Perry Anderson's take on the island and its divisions:

Whim said...

Thanks for the article, Kyle. I knew the basic outlines of the politics, but this article was fantastic. I'm planning on visiting Eastern Anatolia as well, and for somewhat similar reasons. Poor fucking Cypriots.