|Image Source: Penguin Books|
Julie Powell's 'Cleaving', washes away the sweet and fun picture that Julie & Julia painted so effortlessly.
If anyone was wondering what “Julie did next?” after cooking her way through Julia Child’s ‘Mastering The Art Of French Cooking’, this book contains all the answers. Apparently she went on to master the art of butchering by joining as an apprentice at a meat shop. Oh and before that she decided to have an affair.
Anyone who has either seen or read Julie & Julia would not believe that anything could disrupt the domestic bliss of the much married and seemingly much-in-love Julie and Eric. But Life has a different plan in mind and so Julie finds herself with a passionate paramour. It is more to escape from the self-brought on confusions and inner demons that pop up in her now complicated life, that she decides to learn butchering. Whether it helps and whether she manages to come to terms with herself forms the rest of the book.
'Cleaving', A Story Of Meat, Marriage And Obsession or so it says, contains many graphic and elaborate descriptions of slaughtering of live animals and processing of dead ones. Being a non-vegetarian myself, I didn’t find it particularly repulsive although I did find it to be too much information. Afterall I don’t think I am ever going to gut a pig in my life (I sincerely hope not!). So I found myself skimming over long paragraphs of such unnecessary and not to mention gory details. I can well understand if it makes some people squeamish too. I believe that she meant to draw parallels between the going-ons in her life and all the cutting, trimming and separating that she is doing, but frankly it was a little boring to wade through all that stuff.
The style of writing is pretty similar to her first book – light, colloquial and wit some self-deprecating humour as well as innumerable references to her favourite show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Many of the central characters of the previous book show up here too in addition to newer ones – which is understandable as obviously she is writing about her own life. Although 'Julie & Julia' had no recipes in it, this one has a handful of them - but then I wasn't tempted to try any of them.
The book doesn’t really take any strong moral stand on infidelity – rather it just deals with it in a matter of fact manner – chronicling things as it happened. This implies that there isn't really much point to the story or that I simply missed the point! So at no point of time did I feel very involved in it - it did not move me in the least, nor could I sympathize with any character in the book - be it the long-suffering husband, the creepy and masochistic lover or Julie herself . It felt like reading an impersonal list. Sometimes it just felt vague, meandering and mundane - but I admit that it is also an honest and brave attempt. Although I enjoyed Julie & Julia a lot, I must confess that Cleaving didn’t quite match up to my expectations.
P.S: This is my 100th blog post! Yeahhh :-)
Should I do something special to commemorate this milestone? Any suggestions from my dear readers? Drop in your comments! (Please don't give me any Poonam Pandeyish suggestions though ;-))