Paul Chutkow

The Writing Life

I wrote my first book when I was 7. 

It was summer time, and I can still remember sitting out in our backyard, our dog at my feet, and I wrote and wrote and wrote. I was doing my own personal biography of Babe Ruth, and I must have filled a dozen of those flimsy blue notebooks, the kind we used in school to take tests or practice our handwriting. To my young eyes, Babe Ruth was a giant, a man who had the skills, the passion, the determination, and the spirit to break free, to transcend all the usual standards of excellence and to place himself, forever more, among “The Best of The Best.”

Yes, even then I loved writing about inspiring figures like The Babe, and in one form or another, in India, Paris, Italy, the Napa Valley and beyond, I’ve been at it ever since. Mother Teresa, Gerard Depardieu, Catherine Deneuve, Robert Mondavi, George Lucas, Tom Cruise, Jeff Bridges -- I have had the pleasure of meeting and writing about each of them, and countless others. Indeed, as an author and foreign correspondent, I’ve written for major publications and publishing houses here and abroad, and I have been able to touch readers all around the world. Inform! Teach! Inspire! That has always been my mission. What writer could ask for more? Well, me...

​To go beyond writing, some years ago I created my own publishing company, Val de Grace Books, and I did so with one objective: to create books of exceptional quality and significance. And what a run we’ve had! Over the years, we have done award-winning books on women in danger around the world, on the creation of the Visa card and the global credit card revolution, on the struggles of living with the age-old affliction of epilepsy, and one on all the internal legal and political struggles that went into the building and protecting of the Napa Valley. And now there’s our new book: “The Best We Can Be, The Life and Wisdom of Joseph Phelps.” Come have a look:

And what a joy all this has been for me. At Val de Grace, I have the honor and stimulus of working with a whole team of gifted writers, photographers, designers, and printers -- all devoted to creating beautiful books, the kind that matter, the kind you can savor for many years to come. Lord knows The Writing Life is never easy, but as you will see in the coming pages, mine has been a fabulous adventure, filled with encounters with exceptional men and women, and all this has brought me the deepest forms of satisfaction. 

Through this site, I want to share what I’ve lived and encourage others to follow their passions and find their own wellsprings of joy and inspiration. Live! Work! Create! And it sure helps to have a great dog by your side, a dog like my man Charlie or Zelda, truly The Luckiest Dog in The World!

Ah, Zelda, our beloved Zelda. She was the zany and thoroughly charming little street dog we rescued from the back alleys of New Delhi. From her miserable existence roaming the streets of India, Zelda went on to a glorious and celebrated life in Paris, Sardinia, and California Wine Country, always out front, always leading our kids and us into delicious adventures, gourmet and otherwise! And now there is a very special treat:

Delightful drawings from the inimitable pen of my old pal, Jean-Claude Suares, one of the true giants of American design and illustration. And how he loved our Zelda! Thanks to our earlier editions here and in France and China, Zelda has a huge following around the world. But this new edition is better than all the rest, thanks to J.C.’s drawings in their original colors. Order it now at Amazon and check out all the five-star reviews! 

"Zelda is an exquisitely charming tale of redemption through the wiles of a mangy Indian slum dog. Slum dog! Yes, I read this irresistible book in one sitting, and now slum dogs are my favorite breed of mutt."

       -- John Berendt, author of Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil

"Droll and tender, Zelda is a delicious dog story but it is far more than that. Behind the portrait of his beloved Zelda, Paul Chutkow takes us inside his journey as a foreign correspondent, as a lover of France, and as a friend of such diverse characters as Mother Teresa, Raymond Aron, the French writer and philosopher, and Gerard Depardieu, a beast as shaggy and colorful as Zelda herself."

       -- The French newsweekly, L'Express

Paul with Charlie, his beloved Springer Spaniel. Photo by Christophe Genty
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She’s here: Zelda, The Queen of Paris!