Ribustello, Inez. Life After Windows. Redwood Publishing, 2021. ISBN 978-1956470079 280 pp. $15.99
I was expecting a memoir in tribute to the personalities, survivors and victims, that worked in the esteemed restaurant and bars at the top of the World Trade Center, with more insight on how 9/11 shattered and rebuilt the sommelier author’s life. There was a lot of wine and restaurant and culinary character name-dropping, a lot of detail about training to become a sommelier that would have been a great book in it’s own right, and not enough juicy details of a failing marriage to understand what put it on the rocks and the struggle to get back, and way too much about IBS.
Mostly, the book suffers from poor editing. It presents as a chronology, but gives away details (like that Inie had a second child, when it’s clear the first was unplanned and not wanted), and repeats details, as if chapters were not written in order and assembled without a final close read. The author doesn’t present as particularly likeable – an entitled party girl unaware of her own privilege who attempts to redeem herself at the end of the book by referencing the diversity of Tarboro and Black Lives Matter. The tenses change – past tense until Sept 11, and then present test for the grueling weeks that follow. A long letter to the The Court of Master Sommeliers is a meandering side note, as are sample? verbatim? emails and Christmas greetings.
I’m so sorry for so much loss, and what the author experienced, and it’s amazing she refound faith in Jesus and ending up making a culinary career even if she never achieved Master Sommelier status. That said, I hope her children are compassionate when they read this memoir and learn their dad vehemently was opposed to kids… or when they revisit the time after she took her 10-year-old son to see Pitch Perfect 3 he made a joke about his cranky pubescent sister being on her period, their mom thought that was hilarious, instead of teaching him about rape culture and why that’s not a funny joke.