Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Review: "Cleaving" by Julie Powell
I just did not love Cleaving. I tried, I honestly did, and I continued to read this long after I wanted to stop. Right away the tone of the book came off as indulgent to me, it was all "Julie this", and "Julie that". Of course, this book is a memoir, so it had to be about Julie, but she just struck me as being so darn selfish all of the time!
Let me try to explain why I felt this way, as I'm not in the habit of cutting up books without some reasoning to back me up. First of all, the fact that this book was about raw meat did not turn me off at all, although I'm sure that it would be too much for some. I grew up on a large chicken farm, and the chickens were being raised and killed expressly to provide the raw chicken that you see in the grocery store. This was how I was raised- certain animals are raised solely to provide meat for human consumption, and that is just the way that is. As a teenager I worked at a local butcher shop. Although I did not butcher the meat myself, it was done on premises, so again, no squeamishness for me. I suppose the reason that I really did not like this book was because in no way could I identify with the author. She's married to a pretty great guy, who loves her and encourages her and puts up with her hissy fits, and she risks it all to have wild sex with D., someone that they both knew in college. Eric finds out about it. They try to seperate for a bit, but end up living under the same roof again. Eric takes his own lover. Julie breaks up with hers, but never stops wanting him. She proceeds to go out and have sex with strangers just to try to feel closer to D. Although they discuss seperation or marriage counselling, neither Julie nor Eric seem to try to work on their marriage, yet they see little reason to offically divorce. I can tell you right now that this kind of thing would not work for me, nor could I relate to how she felt. It just seemed so farcical to me, like "you can have your cake and eat it too".
There were a few positive bits of the book for me. Fleisher's, the butcher shop where Julie apprentices seems like a pretty great place, and the people who work there appear to be warm and caring. Also, Julie's trips at the end of the book to learn more about meat are interesting for an armchair traveller such as myself. Other than those brief shining parts, I would give this book a miss. I'm not sure why I was initially so determined to read this one, but now I wish that I would have given it a miss and focused instead on reading something that I would have enjoyed more. Luckily, this wasn't my copy (it belongs to the library), so I can just give it back now.
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Aspiring butchers
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, 2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge