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The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal,…

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's…

by Michael Paterniti

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Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
The Telling Room is written by a man on a quest to learn the story behind Paramo de Guzman, a legendary Spanish cheese he encountered while working at a deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His attempts to discover the story behind this award winning cheese take him to a small Castilian village, where he meets Ambrosio, the cheesemaker. In the course of researching the book, he discovers there is much more to the cheese and the cheesemaker than he expected.

The author admits in the book that he had a very hard time writing the book. He had a contract for the book, he missed deadlines, and seemed to wonder if there was actually much of a story to tell. I don't think there really was.

It started out interesting enough. The gourmet cheese came from an old family recipe that Ambrosio had to recreate. No one knew exactly how to make it, so he made cheese after cheese, changing every possible variable from the diet of the sheep to the length of time the cheese aged. He then took samples to family members until he had created what everyone remembered as the old family cheese.

This is about as long as my interest lasted in the book. He goes on to talk about the formation and destruction of Ambrosio's business, Ambrosio's thoughts on the culture of food, and Spanish history.

The book becomes really disorganized with more footnotes than I have ever seen in a book. There are even footnotes within footnotes. The author himself admits that he doesn't like footnotes, but felt they were necessary since every conversation he has in the Spanish village seems to have so many tangents and asides, that it was impossible to include them all without footnotes. I could see the point if the text itself was linear and organized, but there also seemed to be so many asides within the text, I'm not sure which asides merited a footnote. I quit reading the footnotes halfway through the book because I couldn't take it anymore.

If this hadn't been for a book club, I would not have finished it.

( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
In The Telling Room, Michael Paterniti traces the backstories of both a rare Spanish cheese and Ambrosio, the man who learned to master its creation. After finding the delicacy working for a deli in college, Paterniti set out on a journey from Ann Arbor, Michigan to the small town of Guzman, Spain to unfold the mysterious cheese. Instead, he discovers a village brimming with secrets, ready to be released.

As The Telling Room begins, Paterniti details his spiral from confident writing student to struggling writer with a relateable, witty voice. Once he discovers Ambrosio’s cheese and makes the decision to tell his story, Paterniti’s style shifts to that of the telling room: detailed and verbose with pages of footnotes, a story for every story. While I commend him for working to bring Ambrosio’s storytelling to life, it’s a difficult voice to translate to the page and, despite my curiosity, I often found myself wishing for more simplicity.

This, however, is coming from someone with little background in the food culture. I have a sense that foodies will find the details in The Telling Room fascinating and have plans to recommend Paterniti’s book to several friends – perhaps they’ll cook me dinner in return. ( )
  rivercityreading | Aug 10, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book could have benefited from a more discerning editor. The first third was fantastic, focused on the history of the fantastic cheese, the appearance and history of the actual Telling Room, and the larger than life characters who embodied them both.

Then, however, the author decided to include a long, painful odyssey of his road to actually completing the writing of the book. The problem with that was he never quite decided whether he was writing a memoir, or someone else's story (namely Ambrosio).

I really believe he needed to focus the story on the wonderful character of Ambrosio in the perfect setting of Guzman, Spain and the cheese that dominated so many lives. While I understand that Paterniti meant to show how much of an impact the entire story had on him, I feel that it backfired and bogged the reader down in, sadly boring, unnecessary detail.
1 vote sangreal | Jan 24, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The story that inspired The Telling Room, and title of the book, are so intriguing. I was drawn to learn more about this wonderful cheese and the human drama that surrounded it. Unfortunately, the book did not satisfy the sense of optimistic anticipation I had when starting it. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of extensive footnotes, and believe that the use of footnotes in The Telling Room hampered my enjoyment of the book. ( )
  nancyjune | Jan 11, 2015 |
This book is filled with magic but isn’t fantasy. It captures time, culture and gives you the meaning of storytelling. Reading this will have you traveling through time, feeling that magic and wanting to hear more. True, this is a story about cheese but as the cover title says, “A tale of love, betrayal, revenge…” all of those descriptions are spot on. Michael Paterniti is very lucky to have met Ambrosio and has to be kismet. If the events of his life didn’t happen exactly the way they did, this beautiful story would have been hidden in Guzman forever.

I’ll admit that the cheese drew me into reading this book. This is one of the signed advanced reading copies I received from Book Expo America 2013. This book/author was the first signing through the door and it’s also the first book I selected to read after lugging home a small suitcase full of books. I finished all 340 something pages in less than a week and felt so grateful at the opportunity to meet this Author (although at the time I had no idea how much I would truly like the book). I wish I could turn back time and ask him so many questions.

But back to the cheese, I’m a cheese snob so I thought this would be the perfect book for someone like me… and it was, but not because of the cheese. Paterniti captures the magic a food can hold, that one taste that can transform the way you look at that particular food each time. The way a food can bring forth a memory, something that was preserved in time from that flavor… THAT is the magic.

The best part of this book was the courage Paterniti and his family had to just give up the modern world for a small time and move to Guzman. Without giving too much away, all I can say is that you’d be surprised how amazing life can be when you truly experience it. At first I didn’t know who I would recommend this book to… (Cheese Lovers? Food Snobs? Frequent Travelers?), after I finished the book it became clear that there is something in this book for everyone. I HIGHLY recommend it.
( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
“The Telling Room” never lives up to its subtitle hype, but that’s as much the hype’s fault as the writer’s. Mr. Paterniti wrings Ambrosio’s histrionics for all they’re worth, then throws in his own infatuation with all things Spanish, tasty and quaint. And he injects himself into Ambrosio’s life with enough humor to offset some of the flagrant artificiality that didn’t belong in a book about the importance of the authentic. “Yes, this was all about cheese,” he writes about the story’s central feud. “And now by resolving it, we could begin on the road to world peace.”
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Jul 22, 2013)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385337000, Hardcover)

In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets—usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine.
It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong. . . .
By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon, he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzmán in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale–like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals and lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, where they made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta.
What Paterniti ultimately discovers there in the highlands of Castile is nothing like the idyllic slow-food fable he first imagined. Instead, he’s 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.
Equal parts mystery and memoir, travelogue and history, The Telling Room is an astonishing work of literary nonfiction by one of our most accomplished storytellers. A moving exploration of happiness, friendship and betrayal, The Telling Room introduces us to Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras, an unforgettable real-life literary hero, while holding a mirror up to the world, alive to the power of stories that define and sustain us.

Advance praise for The Telling Room
“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
“The list of writers I would read even if they were to write about a piece of cheese has always been 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
“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
“A gorgeous and impassioned monument to the art and mystery of storytelling, The Telling Room 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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:05 -0400)

In the picturesque village of Guzmn, Spain, in a cave on the edge of town, there is a cramped limestone chamber known as "the telling room." This is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets--usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine. It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a Spanish cheesemaker as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio's cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong. Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled, relocating his young family to Guzmn in order to chase the truth about this fairy tale-like place. What he ultimately discovers is nothing like the idyllic fable he first imagined. Instead, he's sucked into the heart of an unfolding mystery, a blood feud that includes accusations of betrayal and theft, death threats, and a murder plot.--From publisher description.… (more)

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