I’ve been awaiting the new book by Julie Powell, author of Julie & Julia, with bated breath, so when an advance copy of Cleaving landed on my doorstop, I was pretty ecstatic. I harbor a not-so-secret fascination with butchery, and have been begging The Brooklyn Kitchen to let me into their always-full pig butchering class (WARNING: graphic content after link) for months now, and I imagined that the book would be full of interesting tips interspersed with quick-witted storytelling, much like Powell’s previous effort.
To my immense dismay, this was not the case. Powell’s foray into butchery is a heavy-handed metaphor for the destruction of her marriage as a result of her affair with a man called only “D.” The segments on butchery were overly detailed even for me - and I’m fascinated with the topic, so I can only imagine how someone less carnivorously-inclined would feel - but it was the rest of the book that really got to me. It made me…well…angry. And perhaps this is because I felt like it was really cruel of Powell to chronicle the intimate details of her affair with another man for all the world to see, especially given that she claims to genuinely love her husband, but I suspect that it’s just because I found Powell’s obsession with sex surprisingly infantile. I felt like I was reading Twilight (boys boys boys boys boys) for the married set…and that’s just not what I was hoping for. I found Powell unlikeable and irredeemable, and by the end I just wanted her husband to tell her off and run away with Gisele or something, because frankly, he deserves it for putting up with her for all those years.
Everyone in the world is going to buy this book this Christmas - and hey, it’s entertaining enough - but I just want to warn you: Julie & Julia Part Deux this is not.
I’m so curious about this book. It’s fascinating that the original publication date, which would go along with Julie & Julia the film, was scrapped, partially due to the fact that the affair aspect made JP unlikable. And in the film, of course, JP’s an American sweetheart played by ever-adorable Amy Adams, but JP seems a saltier figure. Those who like Joss Whedon stuff are.