Walking on the Ceiling, Aysegul Savas & Gonc Winery Pavel
Walking on the Ceiling by Ayşegül Savaş with Gönc Winery Kerner Pavel
by Kim Kent
A year ago
I have a distinct memory of reading a line in a novel, or perhaps poem, about bodies containing landscapes. I remember being struck by it at the time, though, apparently, not enough to keep it from slipping through the cracks. It’s this unreliable feeling that returned while reading Walking on the Ceiling, a novel concerned not so much with our inner landscapes as with our internal cities: the vanishing, humming, and inexhaustible inventories that live within us. Just as through the physical cities constructed in Ayşegül Savaş’s novel, the internal ones must also be explored slowly. All that the mind has “noticed and stored away” unpacked deliberately, delicately by the narrator. In reading it I experienced “a strange and weightless suspension,” as if I weren’t reading exactly, but observing a photograph. Looking for “one thing in the midst of everything,” and tracing my own reflection as it retreated from the physical city and into memory.
There are many ways to tell a story. This is one. There are also many reasons to read them: to be surprised, to learn something, to get lost, to witness, or to see a glimmer of your own body overlapping another’s narrative all top the list of reasons why I read them. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s impossible to read Walking on the Ceiling without stumbling across your own inventory of losses in its pages. For me: my own solitary time in Paris, many, often failed, attempts to record the past as I remember it, straight forward and simply, and, most clearly, the absence of my own mother— though the only real similarity between my “residual of absence” and Savaş’s fictional one is a shared feeling of longing: the desire to look closely and also to disappear.
Honeysuckle blossom. Peach skin. Green Apple. Wet stone. Melon rind. Pineapple core. An inventory of the flavors I tasted, swallowed, and then recalled while drinking the Gönc Winery Kerner Pavel, which is 100% Kerner from a single vineyard. I’d never heard of this grape before, though it’s a name I enjoy saying. Both bright and demanding, the Kerner is intensely aromatic, delicate and full-bodied. Ripe for sitting in the park, or taking on a slow walk, I preferred sipping it when it was colder but recommend letting it sit out of the fridge for a spell before diving in.
Ayşegül Savaş is a Turkish writer living in Paris. Walking on the Ceiling (2019) is her first novel. Her second novel, White on White, will be published later this year. I read an excerpt from her forthcoming novel in The New Yorker sometime in 2020, a read that propelled me toward reading Walking on the Ceiling once, and then once again. Savaş is also a photographer, a fact that did not at all surprise me.
Gönc Winery is a fourth-generation family run winery in Slovenia established in 1936 by the family’s grandfather, Pavel. There are three main wine regions in Slovenia, and the Gönc Winery grows grapes and makes wines in the Podravska region (Štajerska) in the north eastern part of the country. The Kerner sees six months in stainless steel, and the dots on the label are drawn in homage to the family surname Gönc: the name for a Hungarian wine barrel that holds 136 liters.