Rex Pickett, in his novel Sideways has probably created two of the most endearingly loveable characters of recent years. Both men are full of petty denials and insecurities about love, sex and life, but their immutable friendship, and their ability to laugh off their respective troubles, makes for a terribly funny, and heartfelt story as we follow their escapades throughout Santa Ynez wine country.The movie version of Sideways will be released later this month, so it will be interesting to see what director Alexander Payne does with this story. At times, the book seems a little contrived, reading like a budding screenplay, rather than a piece of literary fiction, but the sparkling dialogue and the fabulous descriptions of the local wine growing country will keep most readers entertained. Sideways is unquestionably one of the best "buddy" stories to be released in some time. Also, readers don't have to know anything about wines and wine growing to appreciate the detailed wine tasting elements of this story. Mike Leonard October 04.