Michael Paterniti Love And Other Ways Of Dying Essays About Love

A collection of long-form nonfiction from GQ and New York Times Magazine contributor Paterniti (The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese, 2013, etc.).

The Telling Room was one of the most critically acclaimed books of 2013, and this carefully curated selection of features demonstrates the breadth of the author’s peculiar, personal style of storytelling. There are familiar pieces—Paterniti’s account of ferrying Einstein’s brain around the country is front and center, as is “The Fifteen-Year Layover,” which recounts the long exile of the refugee who spent 15 years at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Others are lovingly crafted portraits of interesting people like “The Giant,” whom Paterniti sought out in Ukraine after reading reports of a man well over 8 feet tall. The author has spent a considerable amount of time overseas, and he recounts his trip to China to meet the man credited with stopping hundreds of suicides on a bridge over the Yangtze River, as well as his journey in Japan following the 2011 tsunami. However, Paterniti is not limited to merely capturing great stories. Another pair of articles deliciously describes food and the people who craft it into wonderful things: the author’s portrait of Spanish chef Ferran Adriá and a similarly mouthwatering feature, “The Last Meal,” in which the author re-creates the final orgiastic meal of French President François Mitterrand. This is journalism unlike the standard fare found in newspapers and tabloid magazines and a tribute to the durability of the human spirit. In a lovely but spare introduction, the author summarizes the process of creating this collection: “If The Game was fantasy and The Work has been cold reality, in both cases they’ve come to represent, at least for me, the same underlying need to make sense of the way that love and loss, justice and devastation, and beauty and pain can fuse to make some bearable, or at least fathomable, whole.”

Real-world storytelling of the highest order.

Publisher’s Description:

Longlisted for the National Book Award • Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Kirkus Reviews • In this moving, lyrical, and ultimately uplifting collection of essays, Michael Paterniti turns a keen eye on the full range of human experience, introducing us to an unforgettable cast of everyday people.

Michael Paterniti is one of the most original and empathic storytellers working today. His writing has been described as “humane, devastating, and beautiful” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “spellbinding” by Anthony Doerr, and “expansive and joyful” by George Saunders. In the seventeen wide-ranging essays collected for the first time in Love and Other Ways of Dying, he brings his full literary powers to bear, pondering happiness and grief, memory and the redemptive power of human connection.

In the remote Ukranian countryside, Paterniti picks apples (and faces mortality) with a real-life giant; in Nanjing, China, he confronts a distraught jumper on a suicide bridge; in Dodge City, Kansas, he takes up residence at a roadside hotel and sees, firsthand, the ways in which the racial divide turns neighbor against neighbor. In each instance, Paterniti illuminates the full spectrum of human experience, introducing us to unforgettable everyday people and bygone legends, exploring the big ideas and emotions that move us. Paterniti reenacts François Mitterrand’s last meal in a rustic dining room in France and drives across America with Albert Einstein’s brain in the trunk of his rental car, floating in a Tupperware container. He delves with heartbreaking detail into the aftermath of a plane crash off the coast of Nova Scotia, an earthquake in Haiti, and a tsunami in Japan—and, in searing swirls of language, unearths the complicated, hidden truths these moments of extremity teach us about our ability to endure, and to love.

Michael Paterniti has spent the past two decades grappling with some of our most powerful subjects and incomprehensible events, taking an unflinching point of view that seeks to edify as it resists easy answers. At every turn, his work attempts to make sense of both love and loss, and leaves us with a profound sense of what it means to be human. As he writes in the Introduction to this book, “The more we examine the grooves and scars of this life, the more free and complete we become.”

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