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Random House LLC
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The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese Kindle Edition
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I started the book late at night, a mistake, as I could not stop reading until the very end, sometime in the pre-dawn light of a new day. And I was sorry that it was over, the spell broken.
I highly recommend it!
It's not about the cheese. ( But, then again, it is. Have a hunk handy to nibble on.) It's not about the cheese maker, Ambrosio. ( But, then, it is.) It's not about Paterniti, the author. ( But, it certainly is!)
It's about Castilian life. It's about an author's life and life style. It's about a friendship ( the author's and Ambrosio's) that becomes tantamount to love. ( It's also about two best friends in Guzman, Spain. Ambrosio and his boyhood friend, Julian.) Well, it's about the nature of friendship. It's about seeing the world through another's eyes for, in actuality, Guzman ( population 80) is not a gorgeous tourist destination. But, it becomes more beautiful with each telling and with each of the author's visits there. The book is peopled with a grand cast of characters, who don't seem like "characters". We get to know the townspeople, Paterniti's children, etc. We live the story!
What about the betrayal, the revenge? It's all there.
Yes, there are myriad digressions. But, they are not really digressions. The digressions become the story. Paterniti tells us that storytelling here with all its retelling by various people, with all its digressing, is really a Castilian thing. We get story upon story--each one adding to our enjoyment.
A big part of this story is that Paterniti had trouble finishing this book. It's as if he didn't want to complete it because his life in Castile would then be over. And, he'd know ( perhaps) if Ambrosio was really betrayed, deceived.
This is a big book masquerading as a tale of cheese and as a search for justice. Not entirely,though, of course. It's really about life and the things we value in life. Lest you think that this is too philosophical, it's not--but it could be--if you wanted it to be. It's full of savoring and humor and strange turns of plot.
Five plus stars if I could.
Also, having made the shift from high end corporate world to simple life in the country, I just found the wow, look at me and how cool this all is, I have found that not everyone lives a crazy warp-speed life that seems to pervade this book a little hard to take. Haven't checked, but I suspect the move, physically and spiritually, will NOT have been a permanent one for the author.
Sorry, love Zingerman's and their catalogue and their cheeses, and am big on back to the land and eating your view and all, but this was like someone from a hip cable program's take on it all ...
Paterniti does some great "investigative" journalism, taking his family and young child to Spain to explore Paramo de Guzman, the "world's most expensive" cheese. Paterniti's interest wasn't random, he had worked at a gourmet food store in Ann Arbor during college writing descriptive articles about some of the eclectic products from around the world that the store stocked. As he was beginning his journalistic career, he thought back to this cheese and decided to explore what made it so special and expensive. This begins his journey to Spain and the town of Guzman and the entertaining origins of the cheese, the bitter feud that broke up a deep seated friendship and left the cheese a shadow of its former self under new ownership.
While the book can meander at times, it is in a way emblematic of the journey that Paterniti ultimately found himself on to tell this story and move beyond biased connection to Ambrosio Molinos, founder of the cheese, to a more dispassionate journalist seeking the truth. Much like Paterniti's journey, the book started out strong, hit a valley in the beginning and reached its peak at the end.