The Member of a Wedding, Carson McCullers & Vermentino, Il Torchio
by Kim Kent
A year ago
I must confess: I love Carson McCullers. This isn’t much of a confession as I tend to fall hard and often for writers. Often for them and their work, sometimes just for their work, and never just for them. I am not saying everyone will love this book, but it’s the kind of book that many of us will recognize. Not the place (the South, presumably Georgia) or the time, (the 1940s—a time of abysmal civil rights and radios tuned always to news of war—though perhaps we’ve only changed so much) or even some of its language, (words whose meanings and usage have changed, and changed again, over time) but might know its feeling: one of being both caught and loose. In some regards, McCuller’s The Member of the Wedding is simply a coming-of-age story, with a spunky twelve-year-old protagonist, yet it isn’t a simple book. It’s a book about the world: “huge and cracked and loose and turning a thousand miles an hour”—and being in it, is to experience every last painful, awkward moment.
I think I love Carson McCullers so much because she is so imperfect. I’ve read biographies and fragments of her unfinished autobiography, and I’m left with the overwhelming sense that she knew nothing and wrote because of it. To me, that’s the most vulnerable and fearful thing about life: to realize you know nothing and keep going anyway.
At first sip, the Il Bianco from Il Torchio (Liguria, Italy) tastes like salty Martinelli’s sparkling cider: the beverage of choice for my sisters and me at every childhood festivity. I would not, however, say that to the winemakers Gilda and Edoardo, also siblings, because they seem very cool, and are also Italian, and probably got to drink much tastier things as children. But all comparisons to Martinelli aside, this Vermentino is delicious: crisp, fruity, minerally, and perfect for drinking at a wedding, or, even better, at any upcoming holiday function where it’s also appropriate to take a minute for yourself and read your book in a corner, or under a table, or in a bathroom stall.
Carson McCullers (1917–1967) was a playwright, novelist, and short-story writer from Columbus, Georgia. She published her first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, in 1940, at the age of twenty-three to exceptional acclaim. All of her novels are more or less about misfits, outcasts, and lonely people—which according to biographers, and her own writings, was an identity McCullers herself knew intimately. She died at the age of fifty leaving behind a small but mighty body of work, and an enduring following of dedicated readers and inspired writers. If you like memoir, I recently read Jenn Shapland’s My Autobiography of Carson McCullers and highly recommend.
Il Torchio winery is a 12-acre estate primarily growing Vermentino in the Colli di Luni appellation. Siblings Gilda and Edoardo took over the family-run estate in 2011, at the ages of 27 and 18, from their grandfather who was the first to bottle and label his wines from the area. The bulk of their production is two different bottlings of Vermentino: Il Bianco (from the vineyards lower on the hill) and Il Torchio. The Il Bianco we’re drinking this month, sees eighteen to twenty hours on the skins, and then three months in stainless steel tanks before bottling—giving it a pale golden color, much like the “spinning sun” of McCuller’s novel, and a nice silky texture.