To Burgundy and Back Again by Roy Cloud is, I guess, a half-assed attempt at a lot of things. Part memoir, it’s framed about a story of the author’s dad putting himself in a coma. Or it’s a tale of brotherhood. Or it’s a tale of a man in a country where he doesn’t speak the language. It’s the tale of a wine importer just getting started. It’s a treatise on the importance of terroir and the sense of place in winemaking. It’s a diatribe on the dangers of commercialized winemaking.
It’s a lot of things, but none of these things are executed completely, coherently, or consistently. The writing is disjointed. The themes awkwardly strung together in the frame of a car trip across France. As far as easy-reading memoirs go, this isn’t awful; you can consume it in about 90 minutes (it’s just over 200 pages of relatively large type with more than adequate line spacing); two hours if you’re taking your time.
Maybe the problem is that the last book I read that was anything near this style was so much more challenging and rewarding. This is the Harlequin Romance version of Theise. If you’re on a beach or in a tin can 7 miles in the air with a baby screaming, it’s not a terrible choice, but this is not the deep and meaningful tome the reviews suggest. Read just one chapter of Theise or Kramer and you’ll quickly see the difference, but there is nothing new, original, or meaningful in this text. 4/10.