The Telling Room
As heard on Radio 4 Book of the Week.
In the medieval Castilian village of Guzman (population: 80), villagers have gathered for centuries in the ‘telling room’ to share stories and drink the local wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a compelling tale about a cheese made from an ancient family recipe that was reputed to be among the finest in the world. Until, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong.
Hooked on the story, Paterniti relocated his young family to the tiny hilltop village to find out more. But like many Spanish villages, Guzman was rife with gossip and old feuds, secret alliances and plotted vengeance and before long Paterniti was sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery. When he learned that the cheesemaker had apparently plotted to murder his closest friend, the village began to spill its long-held secrets, and Paterniti found himself implicated in ways he never expected . . .
The Telling Room is a gorgeous and impassioned monument to the art and mystery of storytelling. It is rich, funny, humane, devastating, and beautiful. It made me want to applaud, it made me want to cry, it made me want to move to Spain. Michael Paterniti is a genius -- ELIZABETH GILBERT, author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE Michael Paterniti is one of the best living practitioners of the art of literary journalism, able to fully elucidate and humanize the everyday and the epic. In his hands, every subject, every moment of personal or global upheaval, is treated with the same curiosity, respect, empathy, and clear-eyed wisdom -- DAVE EGGERS Sun-baked highland plateaus, argumentative village rustics and beguiling old ways . . . There's no resisting the infectious glee * * New York Times * * A masterly, joyous piece of non-fiction storytelling . . . a strangely gripping and moving tale about life, love, friendship, family, place - and cheese * * Financial Times * * The list of writers I would read even if they were to write about a piece of cheese is short, but it includes Michael Paterniti. He has proved here that if you love something enough, and pay a passionate-enough attention to it, the whole world can become present in it. That's true of both the cheese and the book -- JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVAN, author of PULPHEAD For my money, Paterniti is one of the most expansive and joyful writers around - big-hearted and humane and funny. This book is a wild and amazing ride -- GEORGE SAUNDERS, author of TENTH OF DECEMBER Elegant, strange, funny, and insightful, The Telling Room is a marvelous tale and a joyful read, a trip into a world peopled by some of the most remarkable characters - and, yes, cheese - in memory -- SUSAN ORLEAN, author of THE ORCHARD THIEF An amazing achievement. The Telling Room is an inspired, masterly epic that expands and refigures the parameters of the storyteller's art -- WELLS TOWER, author of EVERYTHING RAVAGED, EVERYTHING BURNED '[The] best book of narrative nonfiction I've read in ages -- MICHAEL POLLAN The Telling Room captures the true essence of happiness - but what's more, it captures the fact that food is always central, always present in our memories, when we search for it. For those who doubt that food is our most vital social network, this book demonstrates it unequivocally -- FERRAN ADRIA Gripping * * Sunday Telegraph * * Few writers can write about the taste of food with Paterniti's vibrancy and precision... [He] is a master of finding and telling great stories (the finding, for most writers, often being as difficult as the telling) that appear to be about something small, such as cheese, but are actually about something far larger-in this case, the whole of human existence... As much as The Telling Room is about a Spaniard's quest to create a cheese that embodies all the love and pain and joy he's ever known, it's also the story of a writer's quest to channel that obsession into the perfect story * * Esquire * * This is a story not only of physical but emotional and spiritual hunger, the yearning to make something from love to be shared - whether food or words - and passed on to future generations . . . It's a book that is, like the cheese Paterniti searches for, 'made with love' - and one that readers will in turn love * * Metro * * Throughout this book, lovingly-prepared food and drink and storytelling are inextricably linked as essential foundation stones of a community and, ultimately, society itself . . . Paterniti has arrived at truths that are universal * * Herald * * A wonderful, enthusiastic and idiosyncratic tale * * Big Issue * * Rich and shaggy, full of Castilian-size detours, it is a travelogue, food adventure, and personal memoir rolled into one hugely likable book... In [The] Telling Room, Paterniti proves that the hardest quarry as a journalist is not the extraordinary, but the everyday * * Boston Globe * * Unforgettable . . . a must-read for all who think of Spain as magical, who consider cheese as the ultimate gift of love, who love stories of betrayal, despair, revenge and redemption * * Wall Street Journal * * If you love food and love reading about food, you can't do better than this beautiful, passionate book. I finished it and wanted to fly immediately to Spain and eat everything in sight -- MARCUS SAMUELSSON, author of YES, CHEF It's not often that a writer as restlessly imaginative as Michael Paterniti delves into the world of food. But with The Telling Room, Paterniti has crafted a book that's as delicious as it is gripping. We food lovers are lucky to count him as one of our own -- ADAM RAPOPORT, editor in chief, BON APPETIT Paterniti dives deeply into Spain's political history, the pleasures of craft, and the motives and methods of storytelling itself * * Harper's * * Not just a book about Spain and its food, but an investigation into the art of narrative itself * * Conde Nast Traveller * * As this witty narrative proves, there's far more to a slice of cheese than first meets the tastebuds * * Easyjet Traveller * * A thoroughly enticing read * * Bath Life * *
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