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Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession [Kindle Edition]

Julie Powell
2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.00 (33%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she'd ever do--until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING.

Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer's, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs--tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts.

The camaraderie at Fleischer's leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world--from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Powell flounders in her latest cooking-themed memoir. Trying to end an affair, the married Powell leaves town and seeks distraction in a butcher shop. She explores her obsessions with meat and with her lover—but listeners will quickly tune out. Her sarcastic inflections, flat tone, and nervous voice that worked reasonably well with Julie and Julia sound supercilious and affected here. The clunky performance cannot redeem the uninspired prose, and Powell—who compulsively cheats on her saintly husband—is difficult to empathize with. A Little, Brown hardcover. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The author of the charming, riveting, thrilling—and successfully filmed—Julie and Julia (2005), in which Powell recounted her year spent cooking all the recipes in Julia Child’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, has turned to butchery! As she relays in her new memoir, after her “year with Julia,” she apprenticed in a butcher shop in upstate New York and learned the trade from the inside out, from sinew to steak. Another prominent theme here is the stress placed on her marriage to the understanding, even noble Eric (as he was depicted in the previous memoir) by their mutual infidelities. It’s a grim book. Powell’s fans happily voyaged with her through Julia Child’s cookbook, but taking the journey through her learning the “art” of butchery is another matter. Graphic, even gross, detail about “breaking down” a beef or pig carcass and about her adulterous sex life (Do we really want to hear about her phone sex with her lover?) blocks any sunshine from emerging from these pages. The previous book made “foodies” of us all, but this book may convince us that vegetarians have had the right idea all along. --Brad Hooper

Product Details

  • File Size: 814 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002SG894I
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,766 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
533 of 556 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So much spice, and yet the broth is insipid. December 10, 2009
Format:Hardcover
Julie Powell tries in her second book to show the world that she has an important voice of her own--that she can do more than ride on the coat-tails of greater talents that have gone before her. So it is a far from encouraging sign that she starts by stealing a title--double entendre and all--from another memoir published not ten years earlier ("Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage," by Dennis and Vicki Covington).

Perhaps she has a better claim to the pun, as she alternates vignettes of apprenticing at a butcher shop and the near-destruction of her marriage. But what is the point of all these boudoir to abattoir smash cuts? They lose their shock value fast. If she has some spark of an idea about meat being meat, or butchery resonating with infidelity, it is nothing more than a spark: gone in an instant, yielding neither light nor heat. Nothing connects the disjointed elements of the book except that they all happened to the author. As Churchill is supposed to have said, "This pudding has no theme." The education of a butcher, the confessions of an adulterer, the bizarre lurch into travel writing late in the book...nothing binds it together into an appetizing whole. You'd think she'd have gotten the point of stews after making all that Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin in the last book.

Oh, and the recipes, randomly strewn in there because...well, why not, I guess. We had pork chops that night so here's a recipe for them. It makes no more sense than anything else in here, but at least it makes no less. (To see this kind of thing done right, try John Lanchester's "The Debt to Pleasure.")

The details of the craft of butchery--reducing things that are still recognizably animals into those lovely steaks and roasts and so forth--are interesting.
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287 of 306 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Where narcissism and insecurity converge December 11, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you are someone who believes in the sanctity of marriage, of civility, or even in simply basic respect for other human beings, this is NOT the book for you.

Throughout the book, Powell is consistently despicable. I know that's harsh, but it's true. Julie Powell cheats on her husband: first in college before they're married, then again, and again, and again during their marriage. She returns to her husband, promising fidelity, only after her situation forces her to return - and she has no intention of honoring her promise of fidelity. She only stops seeing her boyfriend when HE breaks it off, and even then she (by her own admission) stalks him for several months. I'm not a traditionalist when it comes to marriage, and I respect and appreciate that different people are in different situations that may not always involve monogamously living happily ever after. But Powell wants it both ways. She wants a traditional marriage. But she also wants her husband AND boyfriend to both dote on her lovingly and exclusively, with no jealousy or repercussions.

To give an example of exactly why I stand behind the harsh descriptor "despicable," let me illustrate with something from the latter third of the book. On a trip to Tanzania, Powell is on a safari and hooks up with the tour guide. Not only is this months after she's professed her renewed devotion (once more) to her husband, but it's culturally inappropriate (and in fact, she is almost assaulted because of it). Powell's description of the make-out session? After the tour guide breaks it off - and HE breaks it off, she clearly states - she says that she is proud of herself. Proud that she had the courage to make out with him, and proud that she let him break it off.
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147 of 158 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Public Therapy December 27, 2009
By HK
Format:Hardcover
I always complete a book once starting it (even one that is thoroughly unenjoyable,) but "Cleaving" proved quite a challenge. It is a failure on every level. The inadequacies begins with the writing. Butchery is an appropriate (if somewhat obvious) metaphor for what the author is doing to her life, but her descriptions, while detailed, are flat and uninspired. There is no magic, no startling descriptions or cunning observations. She simply walks the reader through her literal manipulation of the meat, probably thinking that this will be shocking enough to impress the reader. She never does the heavy lifting to transform that aspect of the text into something more than a (rather boring) technical manual.
Her recounting of her marital infidelity is so self-indulgent and unreflective that the fact that she saw fit to publish it in such a raw, unimaginative form is probably the ultimate insult to her benighted husband (who does not appear as a real person in the memoir--merely a doormat with legs). There's something abusive in her literary treatment of him. It's as though she's pathologically incapable of caring about others (including her husband or lover), and her arc culminates in complete acceptance of, and pride in, her lack of empathy. Even more pathetically, while she emotionally abuses her husband and attempts to manipulate her no doubt terrified lover, she is slavishly and compulsively obsessed with winning the approval of the "cool kids" at the butcher shop--it reads as almost a type of personality disorder, but clearly isn't recognized as such by the author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Julie and Julia but with less taste and a lot more whine
If you were a fan of Julie Powell's first book, "Julie and Julia...", do yourself a favor and you DO NOT read this book. Ms. Read more
Published 14 days ago by J. Campbell
5.0 out of 5 stars Meat Sex Booze
A brutally honest memoir. I don't think you should read this if you are looking for another J&J. If you want a meatier, bloodier version of eat pray love? This is your book.
Published 1 month ago by K.Sweazea
1.0 out of 5 stars At least this way something good may come of it
Ugh. I gave the horrid thing away to be cut up for an art project... At least this way something good may come of it.
Published 1 month ago by strange angel
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, snark and funny.
I read Julie and Julia and had to know more about Julie. She was witty and snarky and hilarious. I bought Cleaving with no expectations and was completely taken aback by the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by LEAH at Addicted Souls Book Blog
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Self indulgent dribble
Published 2 months ago by Elizabeth Salica
1.0 out of 5 stars did not like
Understand how author was trying to use write what was going on in her life during her quest to butcher meat, however, her detailsof her intimate life overshadowed. T.M.I. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Karen Brown
2.0 out of 5 stars SKIP IT!
What a boring waste of time. Julie Powell is a really good writer, but this book is 15% about meat, and 85% boring journal-entry-style CRAP about her relationships with men. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Awna M. Zegzdryn
1.0 out of 5 stars weird mashup of 9 1/2 weeks & heat by bill buford. read those instead.
this book is 9 1/2 weeks[the book;not the movie] & heat by bill buford but very badly done.

In theory, i would have loved this book if it had the insight & magic of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by NiQ
5.0 out of 5 stars Imperfect woman writes memoir, gnashing of teeth ensues
I'm giving this five stars to balance many of the moronic one star reviews. It's fine if you think someone is self-obsessed, but why oh why are you reading memoir? Read more
Published 3 months ago by D. Alden
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved this book. An interesting story of love and meat.
Published 3 months ago by Amy C. Le Blanc
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More About the Author

Julie Powell thrust herself from obscurity (and an uninspiring temp job) to cyber-celebrityhood when, in 2002, she embarked on an ambitious yearlong cooking (and blogging) expedition through all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She detailed the experience in her critically acclaimed 2005 New York Times bestselling memoir, Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in August 2009. Julie has made appearances on national television shows from ABC's "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show" to "The Martha Stewart Show" and Food Network's "Iron Chef America," and her writing has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers including Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Harper's Bazaar, New York Times, Washington Post, and more. She is a two-time James Beard Award winner, has been awarded an honorary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and was the first ever winner of the Overall Lulu Blooker Prize for Books.

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Topic From this Discussion
The name of the butcher shop is "Fleisher's."
This has been done before in the book "Heat" and the butcher shop was in Italy.
Aug 5, 2009 by MLIS2012 |  See all 5 posts
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