Long Live The Post Horn, Vigdis Hjorth & Anne Arbeau Braucol
by Kim Kent
A month ago
There are many novels we love that make us work: some with their experimental form, or length, others for their linguist leaps, and some with their ability to submerge you so thoroughly in the peaks and valleys of their narrator’s feelings that you must work to shake yourself loose from the voice now enmeshed with your own, almost as if embroiled in a torrid love affair. In the case of Vigdis Hjorth’s Long Live The Post Horn!, it’s a love between the disillusioned and the whole world. And like any good love story, it imparts upon the reader an almost euphoric swell of happiness, is it?— or perhaps what we really mean is faith, though not until you’ve been hauled through some very real, unnerving feelings of Despair—the kind that gets “into your bones,” and where “I could feel my mood darkening” while reading. And while this is exactly the sort of thing we try to avoid this time of year (we’re joking), the novel’s emotional depths are not without reward. We promise. From surge to swell, from the depths to a nearly capital ‘r’ Romantic level of hope, we’re glad we stuck it out. O! Post Office! O! World! O! Literature!
“It must be unnerving not to be able to choose your own ending, not to know which gust of wind will carry you off, not to be able to prepare for it,” writes Hjorth in a line that sums up my thoughts on reading this month. I was not prepared, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. While I usually read all of the Book Cru novels at least twice, I admit that I haven’t, and don’t intend to here. The experience of being, much like the narrator, in a free-fall of feeling was so compellingly complete that I’m holding on to it as the little winter antidote I needed: the “darkness was no longer quite so dark and the cold loosened its grip.” In the end, it’s a novel about finding something that works— something with presence, immediacy—something to give your attention to, something that allows you “to be real and be present in the now,” and that, surely, is enough.
Drinking this month’s wine felt a little bit like “describing a circle using circles.” It’s a wine you’ll have to chase after a bit, but seeking out its circling flavors with your “wet and willing tongues” won’t be something you’ll mind. Promise. Anne Arbeau Braucol red from Fronton, a region often known for its funky, barnyard-like reds, and rarely for the presence of this blend’s grape. It’s a wine that surprises, and one we weren’t quite prepared for: a gush of fruit with the first sip—sour cherry, raspberry, strawberry, plum— followed by an earthy, funky depth that’s just out of grasp, and disappears just as quickly as it slides against your tongue, leaving you thirsting for a little more fruit. O! Fruit! O! Long End of Winter! O! Life!
Vigdis Hjorth is the author of over a dozen prize-winning and best-selling novels, however only three are widely available in the United States. Will and Testament was longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature and won the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature and the Norwegian Booksellers’ Prize. Her most recent novel is Is Mother Dead. She lives in Oslo.
Anne Arbeau is making wine in Southwestern France in Fonton, in an area not often known for making high-quality natural wine. Anne’s great-great grandmother started the family estate in 1878, and the family was growing and shipping grapes until Anne’s mother began making wine under her own label, which Anne continues today. This blend is a Negrette heavy blend (also includes Gamay, Syrah and others) that undergoes semi carbonic fermentation in stainless steel.