Halloo dear readers, was it not the most excellent Leo McGarry
(of West Wing fame, played by late actor John Spencer
) who said "There are two things in the world you never want to let people see how you make 'em: laws and sausages." (referencing a quote from Otto von Bismark, why am I telling you this because I'm nerdy). On the heels of her bestselling book, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
(it was also turned into a movie didn't you know), author Julie Powell's
next book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession
which I finished last night, was in my opinion, a good read. Ms. Powell gets a book deal and after channeling Julia Child for a year, it seems she has it made, right? It seems she still has issues to work out, she gets involved in an affair, but she still loves her husband and considers him a permanent fixture in her life, so they don't really break up. She searches for an apprenticeship as a butcher and finds a shop two hours away in Jersey, where she spends 6 months learning how to be a butcher. The book is part recipe book, part detailing of where the clean little pieces of meat wrapped sterilely in the meat department really come from (quite gory)...how to dismember and cut up a cow, pig etc...and a post-mortem on her own life is very well written. I think Julie appeals to the mid 20's and beyond woman who graduates from college (esp. with a liberal arts degree and considered quite clever in college but the real world whomps them on the head with reality), God knows I've been there...
The affair guy and her break up, and much of the book details her coming to grips with that, as well as how her and her husband Eric handle this whole situation (he knows about the affair and Julie seems to spend much time away from him, but they still stay together). She finds a measure of peace in the camaraderie of the butcher shop, then she travels to various countries to experience the state of meat (meat processing plants, sausage factories, etc etc)...and quickly realizes that living in America, she has it pretty good (women have it pretty crappy in Africa, the men are completely in charge). The cultural exchanges are quite humorous, and somewhat disturbing.
Why would you still want to read the book after all this disturbing information is revealed you ask? Because Julie Powell knows how to write, that's why. She ruthlessly lays out her life in I'm-doing-an-autopsy like detail, deftly drawing parallels between it and butchery. Some will be turned off by the tmi, but I was fine with it. Overall, I'd recommend this book, and though I'm not sure the book will be made into a Nora Ephron movie anytime soon, it's worth it.