Wednesday, February 23, 2011

April 2011 selection



I know February isn't even over yet, but I thought I would get a jump on the selection for April.

In keeping with the theme right now of memoirs, I decided to go with the latest from Elizabeth Gilbert.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be popping in to the blog to update a few things, and would love to hear what you might be interested in reading for June.

Friday, February 4, 2011

February Selection -Cleaving by Julie Powell

Category:  Memoir,

This is the second book by Julie Powell (Julie/Julia) who had gotten her start as a blogger which was then turned into a book-movie.

Cleaving, picks up right after the success of Julie/Julia and takes you down a spiral of self.
Having worked her way through Julia Child 's famed cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and blogging about it, she found herself surviving an emotional time.  Now, we pick up about three years later, and Julie's life which had just become successful, is spinning out of control because of that success. Everyone seems to want a piece of her and she's looking for escape. Still wishing to work with in the culinary world on some level, she turns her attention from French cooking to Butchery.  After many dead leads, Julie lands in a family run butcher shop as an apprentice. Here, she dives into the work, and separates herself from her very recent past. Before long, not only is she able to slice a whole side of beef into steaks, but she's managed to slice herself into sections as well. Living her life almost like two different people, with two different men.  After picking up the pieces of her marriage and the end of her apprenticeship, she travels to some of the world's top farms to learn how non-Americans work the meat industry. From making pork dumplings to curing a freshly killed goat. 

 As a book reviewer, I always give as much plot as I can, and I've only reviewed two memoirs in the past.  Which from that stand point, I have to say are the toughest ones to review because there are no "characters"  so to speak.  You're actually commenting on someone's life.


I had read the first book - Julie/Julia - two years ago in anticipation for the movie which I loved.  I then started to actually read her blog that had started it all.
When I heard about the second book, I was ecstatic.  I actually got this book a year ago as a birthday gift for myself.  My review list kept me from reading it till now.

Her use of meat as a metaphor is brilliant. And I'm a vegetarian so I knew this was going to be a difficult read for me to begin with.
I also had a bit of a heads up on the subject matter. Her affair.  She uses the butchery images to link together her physical world, her emotional world and the leftovers that the success of the Julie/Julia Project splattered on her.
This is not a light read by any means, and if you come out of it without an understanding for how we are all connected then you missed the point of her book.

Cause at the heart of this book, that is what she's telling us.  We are all connected.  Just like the tissue of the pig she goes into extreme detail of explaining how to chop down into ham, then sausages and bacon, she's exposing the core of ... well love. What binds us to this world and to each other.
The balance we find between who we are and who we wish we were. 

Cleaving A Story About Marriage Meat and Obsession  is just that. Emotional, Informative, even Spiritual at times. Always honestly unsettling and not for the faint of heart.  You might not come away from this liking the author but you will come away from it with a better understanding of yourself.
And a few recipes.