Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti

Title: The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese
Author: Michael Paterniti
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Library Copy
This book would be rated: PG-13

Let's say that once in your life, you had a great idea for a book. You were fresh out of a great MFA program, so you had the writing chops (if long-winded footnotes are your thing). So you took off to Spain to write the story about the greatest piece of cheese in the entire history of the world. But let's say that life intervened. Instead of learning about the cheese, you got into a bromance with the cheesemaker. You had a few kids. You and your wife both got involved in other projects. And eventually, the people who gave you your advance took it all back and canceled the project. How do you salvage things? If you're Michael Paterniti, then the result is The Telling Room, where he tells not only the story of the cheese from the village of Guzman, but also the story of larger-than-life Ambrosio, plus a lot of added extras. Paterniti does a great job characterizing the man and painting a picture of rural Spanish life, and touting his own exploits, but as a story, this one felt like a whole lot of laziness and MFA posturing and not much of giving a fully-rounded story.

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