Katherine Borel has cobbled together a crass, in-your-face, self-indulgent account of her fifteen-day trek with her father across France. Borel flits back and forth between recollections of past incidents, which feed into her need to connect with her father before time gets past her, and this seemingly epic journey. Phillipe Borel, an aging hotelier, comes off as highly opinionated and not the least shy about meting out criticism to anyone who has the misfortune of serving him.
“We forgot to shut the window before falling asleep and had allowed a swarm of robust northern France mosquitos to enter and do their bidding.”
Corked reads like a frantic TV sitcom with a bad laugh track. The reader is held hostage while belly button lint smelling is interspersed with nearly poetic descriptions of wine and grapes. Oh, and did I mention that father Phillipe barfs his way through the first one hundred pages? Borel delights in describing his actions in nauseating detail.
Alas, these characters are too well-developed for this reviewer’s taste. A bit more continuity and a bit less trying too hard to be very, very cool might have helped. Borel may need to connect with her father, but the reader needs a strong stomach to get to what good parts this book may contain.
Reviewed by Ruta Arellano. Reprinted courtesy of Sacramento Book Review.