The Novel “New York 2140” and Wine

Posted on: March 21st, 2018 by

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley RobinsonI’m in the middle of reading New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, which I bought at the excellent bookstore, WORD, in my neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The plot?

As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.

There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear – along with the lawyers, of course.

There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home – and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.

Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all – and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.

It’s kind of weird to be toting a book on the subway with a cover depicting the city underwater. But it’s a really intriguing book of how people survive and adapt, at every economic level.

Wine in New York 2140

As someone who’s read more tasting notes than he cares to mention, one passage really struck me with having a similar cadence to a wine review. It’s from a scene where one of the main characters is investigating a recently collapsed building in a neighborhood partially submerged. His description:

As we got closer to the crash site, the ordinary ammoniac reek of a tidal flat was joined by another smell, maybe creosote, with notes of asbestos, cracked wood, smashed brick, crumbled concrete, twisted rusty steel, and the stale air of moldy rooms broken open to the day like rotten eggs.

Makes me think Robinson is definitely a wine drinker. A few pages later, this passage:

He would learn to avoid the red wine if he stayed here more than a couple of days, but only by experiencing it’s mouth-puckering tannins directly, so I nodded and walked over to fill his glass, and refill mine with the vinho verde. 

My kind of wine drinker. Eschews tannic beasts and prefers fizzy, light white wines.

It’s always fascinating to come across passages about, or reminiscent of, wine in fiction that are trenchant and unexpected. For more of this, see my thoughts on Champagne in The Sun Also Rises.

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