Where Reasons End, Yiyun Li & Halkia Rosé
Where Reasons End by Yiyun Li with Halika Rosé by Halika Winery
by Kim Kent
A year ago
Yiyun Li’s novel Where Reasons End, exists in a between-place — between life and death, time and aftertime—that is far from murky or liminal. Her world is made of words, both precisely and precariously built. Part elegy and part monument, Li’s novel creates a surprisingly soft-bodied world: an imagined ‘nowhere’ place, a place called grief. Li writes, “timeless is this world we are making, tenseless its language,” but unlike time, which must move forward, Li’s novel goes nowhere. To read it is to eavesdrop on a conversation that belongs to nobody, to be in a world where answers fail us (as they must), and in that failure we simply are: some of us “living in days and others in aftertime.” Like the first snowfall, which, almost as soon as it begins, ceases to be anything other than the way it makes us feel.
Months after reading Where Reasons End, and even after recommending it to several friends, I continue to mistakenly refer to it as a book called “Where Reason Ends.” Li’s title is, of course, the better one; my slip only subtle, but I find my utter inability to remember correctly indicative of my experience with it as a whole: What you take from it is how it makes you feel.
I drank this month’s wine over three days: on two of those evenings it snowed, and I felt strongly that time was completely irrelevant. It was the snow. The wine. The precise repetition of removing my hand from underneath a blanket to turn the pages as I read. I found myself looking backwards and forwards, imbuing both with my present-tense feelings. I was everywhere in my mind, but going nowhere. Halkia Rosé (100% Agiorgitiko) is an incredibly gentle, yet wild, wine. Like drinking an entire field of wild strawberries while lying in said field of strawberries. It’s a feeling wine: soft, smooth. And I for one like the way it made me feel: reassured somehow — possibly, I’d even go so far to say, as though I was being held.
Yiyun Li was born in Beijing in 1972. She moved to the United States in 1996 to earn a degree in immunology, which she completed, only to pursue a career in fiction writing, specifically choosing to write in English, her second language. A few months ago I read her memoir Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, which is quite possibly one of the best books I’ve read, ever. Like Where Reasons End, it’s a book about reading, writing, sadness, and the “days where we live.”
Anna Halkia is a female winemaker making wine from traditional varietals in Nemea, Greece, the largest winemaking region in Greece. She came into natural winemaking by way of circumstance. First a farmer, she wanted to learn how to make wine, but given her lack of money she started with basic technologies in the back of her house: ta-da natural wine making! (Ok, it really isn’t that easy, but infinitely more egalitarian than traditional winemaking.) This rosé wine is made from the red-grape Agiorgitiko, sees a very brief amount of skin contact, and is completely unfiltered.