Friday, March 28, 2014
The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti
From the Front Flap:
In the picturesque village of Guzman, 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.
The book started slow for me. I could not decide why on earth this young journalist wanted to write the story of a cheese maker from Spain. It didn't seem all that interesting to me. I mean, yes, it afforded him an opportunity to visit Spain. But he barely spoke or understood Spanish, so why put himself through that? Evan as I struggled to understand, I kept wondering Why? Who cares? What is interesting about a cheese and the man who made it in the small village in the Central Plateau of Spain.
Gradually as the book progressed, I came to understand that it wasn't just about the cheese. It wasn't even just about the the cheese maker. It was about this young husband and father finding his voice as a storyteller. And what a journey it was. He is passionate, articulate and able to humanize the everyday of life. He treats his subject with respect, curiosity and empathy.
This was the March selection for my local bookclub and I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more discussion. Most had not finished the book, so that may be why. I think it was a slow start for most as it was for me, and too, some had trouble finding the book. The library had one copy that was checked out and not returned on time. Our one and only bookstore did not have it in stock, but could order it by the end of March ( that would be too late). So in fairness, it was a difficult book to discuss.
Until next time
Stay Busy and Stay Happy