Charles Blackstone's Vintage Attraction: a drinking game
When a copy of Vintage Attraction, the new novel by Chicago author Charles Blackstone, arrived at the office weeks ago, it immediately caught our eye—not for its scenic cover photo, featuring the lovely blue-domed churches of Santorini, but for a small detail in his author bio: "Blackstone is married to Master Sommelier Alpana Singh, owner of the Boarding House restaurant in Chicago."
Mentioning his partner's career is a marketing move—the "semi-autobiographical" novel is about a young English teacher, Peter Hapworth, who falls in love with celebrity sommelier–slash–TV host, Isabelle "Izzy" Conway (Singh was the host of the WTTW show Check, Please!)—but it's still weird. Weirder still is the Bookslut managing editor's narrative style, rife with brand names, ham-handed metaphors and confusing syntax. We read sentences like this aloud, in amused disbelief: "For twenty years, my cock had stood at perpetual attention, stoic, compliant, dimly guileless, smiling dumbly, yet capable, in theory, of wreaking great havoc, like an armed and overweight bank branch rent-a-cop." See more examples in the slideshow above.
When our theater editor tweeted about how reading the book aloud had derailed the workday, Blackstone replied, "I see drinking game potential." Since the novel is about drinking wine, we had to agree. In advance of the novel's October 22 release, we present…
Vintage Distraction: A Vintage Attraction Drinking Game™
Drink anytime more than three brands appear on a single page. Example: Mad Dog 20/20, Rhodia, iPods, Coke, Coke Light p. 7; Mustang, Kohler, Möet, Grey Goose, Kitchen Aid p. 68
Drink anytime two or more Chicago establishments are mentioned on the same page. Golden Nugget, Dominick's p. 118
Drink anytime a common food is italicized to make it sound more exotic. empanadas, chorizo, etc.
Drink at any mention of "indie rock": "...he turned out to be her indie-rock idiot." p. 181
Drink whenever Peter Hapworth mentions his Nerve.com profile.
Drink anytime the character Pacer Rosengrant is mentioned by his first and last name, Pacer Rosengrant.
Drink anytime Izzy's fame is referenced. "I received a number of astonished (and some baldly disbelieving) wall posts when I linked my Facebook page to Izzy's and our status turned to 'in a relationship.' 'The same Isabelle Conway? The one from TV?' some of the messages read." p. 76
Drink anytime you encounter a perfume from the '90s. Hint: "Make a statement without saying a word."
Drink anytime you suspect he's misusing a word (or relying too heavily on Roget's). Ex: "I obviated her bra" p. 113 "…a geriatric shouted, much more powerfully than one might have expected on the basis of his frangible physiognomy." p. 15
Drink anytime you find yourself mentally editing a sentence: Ex: "An intricate architectural infrastructure of columns that had been gessoed with decades-faded Le Monde front pages ensconced our table." p. 45; "Despite my redoubtable engorgement last night, I was starving." p. 223
Drink anytime you find yourself saying "Yikes!" aloud while reading. Ex: "I inserted myself, gradually and suddenly, my cock jumping the Brazilian waxed turnstile, and plunged into the subway." p. 119
Drink anytime Blackstone provides directions like Google Maps. "First we went southwest on diagonal Blue Island Avenue until it spilled into Loomis. Then we went down Loomis to Nineteenth Street. We took a right at Throop, a left at Cullerton." p. 123
(Go buy more wine. You're out.)
Drink anytime he compares a woman to something dirty or something that picks up dirt. Ex: See aforementioned vagina=subway metaphor; a sleeping Izzy compared to "an unwound vacuum cleaner cord" p. 208
Drink whenever he spends a paragraph quitting computer programs. "I closed Adobe and Preview in a command-Q flash. Then came Bluetooth Exchange." p. 178
Drink at thinly veiled attacks at Rick Bayless. Ex: "I conflated Izzy's with another program that featured a popular lilt-voiced, panic-eyed Chicago restaurateur who'd become notorious with recipes he was rumored to have stolen at a parrila while on vacation in Buenos Aires." p. 4
Drink in this sentence (again): "For twenty years, my cock had stood at perpetual attention, stoic, compliant, dimly guileless, smiling dumbly, yet capable, in theory, of wreaking great havoc, like an armed and overweight bank branch rent-a-cop." p. 99
And this: "With a formidable intake of breath, she respired her olfactory mucosa, which elevated snot into her brain. I suspected that illicit trafficked agents had spent the better part of the night up there colluding with her latent lower-minded impulses." p. 184