Emergency, Daisy Hildyard & Villalobos
by Kim Kent
A year ago
As someone who, unsurprisingly, thinks of themself as a reader, and one who is writing these notes (primarily) for other people who consider themselves readers, I admit that very rarely do I reread books. Sure, there are a handful of books I’ve reread, ‘classics’ generally, and books I’ve reread in order to re-place myself within for this project or another, but very rarely do I embark on the beginning again of a novel for the pleasure of it. And even now, as I am about to enthusiastically recommend reading and then rereading Emergency by Daisy Hildyard as I did a few weeks ago, I can’t be sure I did it with pleasure in mind at all, but rather because of some imperceptible, excitable force that compelled me—my body, even more than my mind—to.
And even after having read this novel twice I find this force (I could feel it; it had weight) hard to explain. It has something to do with the ending of Hildyard’s novel, which I had a sense of from the start; but then, the sense shifted, so much so that I needed to begin again almost as though I were reading the novel backwards. It has something to do with the novel’s pace, which moves in all directions—past, present, future— and progresses in an “incremental advance” that challenges any remaining notions of narrative hierarchy I may have once had. It has something to do with Hildyard’s ability to make the reader feel as if they were not the audience of the novel at all, as if like the narrator we were participating with our bodies more than simply reading—feeling “not the objects but the animating energy passing through” us, her, and all of it. And it has something to do with that energy being both the language and the place itself; being both individual and larger than any of its single parts. Emergency, like many of the books I’ve been reading lately, has much to do with paying attention. And so, perhaps the urgency I felt to return to it as soon as I finished might be just that: I needed to pay more attention. I wanted to pay better attention.
This month’s wine comes from a wild place. An (over)grown place; a “delicate, intent environment” that has made its own way, uninterrupted by the human desire to cultivate it for over ninety years. Looking at photos of the Villalobos winery in Chile’s Colchagua Valley, it is easy to get the sense that “the landscape was not the subject or even the medium, but the audience.” The place is more than a vineyard—an entire ecosystem of vines enmeshed with rose bushes and pine trees that are not so much encroached on by blackberry brambles, or divided by hedges, as they are inhabited by and intertwined with all. Everything. As a result, the Silvestre Carignan possesses a scent “with more depth and past” than most wines I know. It’s a wine you taste with your whole body: a porous liquid that leaked into my whole being. To me it tastes like something found deep within the earth’s surface: “sharp peppery” fruit—plums, perhaps, slightly bitter but with the lingering note of dusty earth and something on fire in the future. It’s bright, almost ruby in color, and while I think it tastes good with a chill, it’s a wine that will warm you from the inside out, and as such is best served at room temperature.
It’s hard to know whether to drink this bottle while reading the first time, or the second, because both reads are blended for me into “one seamless sequence in my mind,” as if I didn’t so much as reread as much as I continued to read beyond the ending, but if you’d like to do as I did: have a glass before ingesting a single world, then continue drinking as you see fit.
Daisy Hildyard is from Yorkshire, England and currently lives in London where she is working toward a PhD in Scientific Language. Emergency is her second novel; she is also the author of the novel Hunters In The Snow and the book-length essay The Second Body, which is how I first came to read and love her.
Villalobos winery is located in the Colchagua Costa region of Chile. It’s a region known for its Carignan, and for its dry summer and cooler nights. The vines were planted in the 1930s and grow completely free in the vineyard– no pruning or trelicaing. The Silvestre Carignan is fermented in stainless steel and then aged in neutral old French Oak.