The Scapegoat by Sara Davis with Luyt Pipeno
Perhaps because this book-and-wine club got its start in the Fall, or perhaps because Fall is the time of year I first feel that kind of atmospheric pressure (possibly, threat) that has me burrowing deep under the blankets with a second glass of wine, it seems fitting that we begin this new season of books and wine with a thriller. A thrill of sorts, I mean.
It is difficult to describe what The Scapegoat by Sara Davis is as a whole, and perhaps it’s a novel best described by its components: at least some part of this novel is a mystery, though perhaps not the part you think is mysterious from the start. I would call it in part a thrill—thrilling perhaps, in the way one becomes preoccupied with identifying “the whiff of a familiar scent” that is “constantly on the edges, pressing in” without ever revealing its source. It is a novel made up almost entirely of unreliable thoughts: a tenebrous fog of a narrative that might be difficult for some, but whose mysterious weight I found completely pleasurable to hold in my mouth. And, finally, it is at least one part the atmosphere of water slowly, and then rapidly coming to a boil, while the reader, who was likely not supposed to be there in the first place, is nestled warmly beneath the sheets. And because it was within this last atmospheric state that I finished reading The Scapegoat late, late last night I, like the narrator of this little novel, “fear gravely for my ability to keep the right thoughts afloat” and can not be held rightly to one metaphor or another.
Perhaps it is because of the gripping strangeness of this novel, my own need to steady myself against what I do not know, or my sneaking suspicion that reading this novel has left me with “a little crack in the vertebrae” of my own reality, that I found myself pulled toward two different sorts of wine for this read. One thrilling and one atmospheric. This month some of you will be drinking the Luyt Caronel del Maule, which is an atmospheric sort of País that tastes like crushed violets and tart berries with a hint of scorched earth; others will be drinking the Luyt Carrizal a thrilling sort of País that tastes like licking rocks warmed by your sweaty palm and a hint of wild berries misted in a coastal breeze. Same grape, different stories. No matter which version you drink, be warned that these bottles are larger than normal, so you might want to share with a friend, or a stranger, as you make your descent into the roiling depths of this novel. We promise they’ll know as much about the what and why as you do in the end, but, we don’t always get to know everything we want to know, and that’s part of our thrill.
Sara Davis is a novelist from Palo Alto, California, and The Scapegoat is her first novel. She wrote an article for Lit Hub about pain, but that’s also very much about writing, that I highly recommend checking out online.
Louis-Antonie Luyt makes wine in Chilé’s Maule Valley, specializing in Pipeño style wines named after their respective parcels of land where the grape (País) is grown and farmed.. Pipeño is traditionally slang for peasant wine, but Luyt specializes in these light, easy-drinking style wines that showcase the specific environments where the different grapes were grown. Hand-harvested, dry-farmed, and plowed by horse, these wines are great examples of the diversity of Maule Valley farmland and soil types.