Liquor & Leaves #3

LL03 (Pappy 12 Year)

Saturday’s liquor: Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon, aged 12 years
Saturday’s book: His Wife Leaves Him by Stephen Dixon

I’ve had dreams about Pappy Van Winkle for years, since I first heard of the legendary bourbon in a Grantland article, but I had it for the first time only in April 2013, on the night before I moved from Jackson, MS, to Athens, GA. Velvety smooth, lacking a bite or even mild harshness on the tongue, with a strong aroma of vanilla and honey, and with an amber color that glows, Pappy is perfect. I love its oak textures and supple body. Dad bought a bottle over Christmas, after hearing me wax rhapsodic about it, and we enjoyed a sip of it on the day after Christmas. Pappy’s hard to find but Dad had a connection at the local Goody-Goody, which just goes to show that it pays to 1) have discretionary income; and 2) know a good liquor-store owner on a first-name basis. Oh, the book: It’s a Dixon novel, which means it is all the qualities that aren’t present in a Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. The book is intense, searing in its knowledge of the ickiness and pain and sloshy, messy joy of love. It features abrasive language, opens with a 39-page paragraph, and jars in its jumps from reality to dream sequence to flashback to imagined future, all without giving the reader much warning but also without being difficult to comprehend its shifts once you’re on Dixon’s wavelength. It’s good to be back. I’m gonna savor the book like I savored that glass of golden Pappy.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author (with Daniel Couch) of Bob Mould's Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). His work has been published in The Quarterly Conversation,, Bookslut (RIP), The Comics Journal, The Baseball Chronicle, and other periodicals. Twitter: @walter_biggins.
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