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Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession Paperback – November 17, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hahaha I hate this book! I don't know why I even tried reading it after trying to read Julie and Julia. It's awful.Published 8 days ago by Boom
Poorly-written book by a self-absorbed person who has no problem unmasking herself as amoral and her husband as pathetic. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Reader
Julie Powell is an engaging writer. She's also a pretty horrible human being, but she is a great writer.Published 4 months ago by Susan E. Schuler
Other people on here have written better and more in-depth reviews than I could come up with Read those, they are spot on. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Firefly
I have rarely read a book so disgusting. I am embarrassed for her husband, family and boyfriends who find themselves on these pages.Published 5 months ago by Eclectic Reader
I'm in the minority here, but this book is as raw as the sides of beef Julie learns to break down and as beautifully written as a crown roast topped off with those paper hat... Read morePublished 7 months ago by DC Gal
Negative reviewers: Are you freaking kidding me? Wow, judgey judgey people out there. How can you hate Julie Powell? Read morePublished 13 months ago by Donna Schorer