Territory of Light, Yuko Tsushima & Amplify Garnacha
by Kim Kent
A year ago
I imagine I’m not alone in saying that this time of year has me looking backward. Turning in on the year as if to draw something from this window of Time. Often I want to make an assessment of sorts, about what has happened. But generally, what I am left with is a feeling—not particularly concrete about the quiet accumulation of my days. Reading Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima feels a bit like this sensation: a collection of dailyness, though not my own, and while I occasionally felt compelled to assert some meaning or assessment upon its tranquil plot, I enjoyed it most when I simply observed the novel’s light rustling wind. As far as novels go, it is not one to play tricks. Its inner parts laid before the reader, one after the other, and in the very act of revealing them are transformed into something extraordinary: A year lived. Which is no small thing.
Territory of Light was first published in 1979 as a serialized novel, part of Japan’s long tradition of the ‘I-novel.’ A tradition of literature I wasn’t familiar with until recently, and of which I am now delightfully obsessed. And on the topic of being delightfully obsessed (and small things): this month’s wine packs a lot of life into its 500 ml bottle. Like this novel, the wine appears deceptively simple. One hundred percent Garnacha transformed, without tricks, into an almost otherworldly wine— or at least not like one I’ve had in this world before. It tastes of salted plums and cherry blossom with a mouth-watering acidity that will linger long into your dreams. It’s a wine that will lock you into orbit should you find yourself transformed into a particle of light, a steady voice encouraging you to go on. Like a lot of things I love, I can’t say what exactly I am left with after consuming this month’s pairing: a sensation mostly, of having lived for a time on the surface of someone else’s earth, which is one small thing I try and hold more of these days.
*Fun fact: I found it impossible to get the cork back into this bottle once I had opened it. As in, I both didn’t want to, and also it literally didn’t fit. So be warned: I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Yuko Tsushima was born in 1946 and lived until 2016. The daughter of novelist Osamu Dazai, most of the bios I found discuss how her fiction was informed by her own life experiences as a single mother and place her squarely in the tradition of the I-novel. Territory of Light was published as a serialized novel in 1979, and this edition is the first collected English translation, published in 2018. Geraldine Harcourt also translated Tsushima’s English-language debut, the short-story The Shooting Gallery in 2014, and her forthcoming novel Woman Running In The Mountains.
Amplify is the project of husband and wife Cameron and Marlen Porter, grown from their mutual love of music and wine. This 100% Garnacha is their first ever bottling of this varietal, grown on the rocky slopes of the biodynamic Demetria Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley in California. Fermented 100% whole cluster then aged for eight months in neutral oak barrels on undisturbed lees, this wine is the pure expression of grape and place personified—or amplified, if you will.