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.
Click on the title above to be taken to this short story published in The New Yorker.
This short story is exactly what the title says, a man with thirteen wives. It starts with a short blurb from the husband but then breaks off into small chapters expanding on each wife and his relationship to them. This gives us a broader picture of a complicated relationship, one which I have to give credit to the Author's selected layout.
The first question that popped into my mind while reading this was if the Author had experience with multiple wives. Nothing in his wikipedia bio talked about anything related to life relationships, so with that in mind... I continued to read this short story.
Going back to the story, I'll give you a glimpse of each wife:
The first wife is harmonious with the husband, so I'll name her Harmony.
The second wife is comforting and nurturing, so I'll name her Solace.
The third wife is the biggest complainer ever, so I'll name her Sissy.
The fourth wife is perfect, one can only plateau or fall from there, I call her Apogee.
The fifth wife has me stumped... Although, I'm positive she should be named Cohort.
The sixth wife is stranger than the last; she can only be named Artiste.
The seventh wife is a copycat, so I'll name her Echo.
The eighth wife entices with temptation, so I'll name her Cajole.
The ninth wife is distant and aloof, I believe the best name would be Automaton.
The tenth wife is sickly (my favorite chapter so far), I'll name her Anemia.
The eleventh wife gets things done, like a handy"woman", I'll name her Artisan.
The twelfth wife is full ISN'T and WASN'T, to name her is hard but she will be Cipher.
The thirteenth wife is about wishful thinking, I'll name her Ambition.
My hunch is that the Author may have meant for these wives to be within the main character, like personality traits. Not sure if I'm on the right track but it would be interesting to see what other people think about this.
I should probably let everyone know that this is a first experience/impression with Steven Milhauser, so this short story will either make me want to pick up one of his novels or steer entirely clear. I've come to the conclusion while this story might not be my cup of tea; I love the silly, fun and jesting style. I'm convinced I should check out more of his work.
Irving writes LONG books but fantastic LONG books. Spending the time to glide through the pages is worth every word.
What is the book about? Really?!? Do I need to go into this? Read the blurb. Just know that the book is excellent and everyone should read it.
How clever is "The Under Toad"? The cute back-story that gets mutilated by all the UNDER TOADS that happen throughout the book. I hope that doesn't give much away... but I'm pretty sure that it would be more confusing to someone than anything else.
Irving has some amazing quotes in this novel too. One of my favorite quotes had to do with the feeling one gets when everything stops and the world goes monotone; "What Garp was savoring was the beginning of a writer’s long-sought trance, wherein the world falls under one embracing tone of voice." You don't have to BE a writer to have experienced that feeling, I believe it relates to any art.
Imagine yourself standing in a puddle of blood, covering the entire floor. All around you is corpses, the dead hanging from the ceiling to bleed dry. The smell is so nauseous you don’t understand how such a disgusting mess turns into food for the people. This isn't a horror story or perhaps it is…
Upton Sinclair has created a jaw dropping story that inspired ACTUAL CHANGE. This was a fictional story with truth woven through it, this truth will make you question your political views, it may even change the way you eat. There was a brief part of this book that had me staring at my dinner plate untouched, which then prompted me to run to my computer and look up the TRUTH behind “The Jungle”. After reading about the change this book inspired (which I barely knew about from the little history I retained from high school), I felt slightly better about things.
However, some of these issues still exist today. We might not throw scraps of rat chewed meat to be sold BUT look at all the controversy today surrounding antibiotic fed livestock, etc. In some ways we may be coming full circle on some of these issues. The treatment of people in the workplace, rules and unions are still struggling to get basic rights (in some circumstances). Clearly, we still have a lot to learn; maybe someone will be brave like Upton and speak out through storytelling to shock the masses. Oh wait… this does exist… in documentary form… all over Netflix.