In the picturesque Spanish village of Guzman, villagers have gathered for centuries in 'the telling room' to share their stories. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti listened as Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras spun an odd and compelling tale about a cheese made from an ancient family recipe. Reputed to be among the finest in the world -one bite could conjure long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong . . .
Paterniti was hooked. Relocating his young family to Guzman, he is soon sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot. As the village begins to spill its long-held secrets, Paterniti finds himself implicated in the very story he is writing. The Telling Room is as surprising, evocative and wildly entertaining as the world it portrays.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
The Telling Room is an unlikely but true story of intrigue, revenge and CHEESE. Yes Cheese. They take cheese seriously in Spain. As they do betrayal and the rustic machismo of settling scores. Written with humor, verve and vitality, this is a fascinating, entertaining journey into Castilian tradition and pride, told from the perspective of an appreciative American consumer who gets seduced by a charismatic peasant, aptly called Ambrosio. The footnotes on every page are full of funny anecdotal and scholarly digressions that amplify the pleasures of the story- think of them as the wine that matches the cheese.
About the Author
Michael Paterniti is a journalist and has been nominated eight times for the National Magazine Award. One of his stories was chosen for True Stories: A Century of Literary Nonfiction, joining four other writers as the best examples of literary journalism from the last hundred years. He is also the author of the New York Times bestselling book Driving Mr Albert. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
* 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 * 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, chef, El Bulli * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 ORCHID 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 * 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 * Paterniti immerses you in an immersion-friendly milieu of sun-baked highland plateaus, argumentative village rustics and beguiling old ways... There's no resisting the infectious writerly glee New York Times * A masterly, joyous piece of non-fiction storytelling that revels in its subject and provides a strangely gripping and moving tale about life, love, friendship, family, place - and cheese Financial Times * [The] best book of narrative nonfiction I've read in ages Michael Pollan * 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 The Boston Globe * Paterniti dives deeply into Spain's political history, the pleasures of craft, and the motives and methods of storytelling itself Harper's * 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 The Wall Street Journal * Gripping Sunday Telegraph * The Telling Room is one of those books where time often seems suspended, facts and fables merge and diverge, and memory melts either into a golden longing or the blessed fog of denial. Paterniti's engaging writing style and his deft ability to glide from the epic to the intimate in just a few sentences belies the obvious pain he suffered during the decadelong gestation of this work... Like the stories told in Ambrosio's bodega, The Telling Room is a book with multiple themes and digressions, each woven expertly into the others' Chicago Tribune * 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 * In the end, The Telling Room delivers a wealth of insights about Spain, food, friendship and the art of writing. The path might not be what you expected, but that makes the memories even richer, just like the surprises in a great meal Washington Post * Very few if any, other books about food are this emotive, evocative and gripping Google Times * What is most compelling and engaging about this idiosyncratic travelogue isn't only the story of the cheese but the story of storytelling itself, the dynamic between the author and his interviewee, Ambrosio, an elderly man finally telling his tale to a stranger. Like food, stories nurture us, they fuel us with energy. 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 tale about preserving the 'flavours of the past' and our cultural heritage while also exploring ethical food consumption, with home-made triumphing over factory food. It's a book that is, like the cheese Paterniti searches for, 'made with love' - and one that readers will in turn love Metro * Paterniti weaves a wonderful, enthusiastic and idiosyncratic tale here, for sure Big Issue * A thoroughly enticing read Bath Life * As this witty narrative proves, there's far more to a slice of cheese than first meets the tastebuds Easyjet Traveller * Not just a book about Spain and its food, but an investigation into the art of narrative itself Conde Nast Traveller * Acutely observant, witty, warm-hearted, and humane, it will reawaken your desire to travel, cook and enjoy life at a more leisurely pace Good Book Guide
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 1st November 2013
Dimensions (cm): 21.4 x 13.5 x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.39