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Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

I liked it, but it is not for everyone

Julie Powell writes her second memoir after Julie and Julia, which I had really enjoyed. I almost didn't read this one as I had seen poor reviews. But the first one had bad reviews also, and I liked that one a lot.


Julie Powell is fresh from the success of her firs...
Julie Powell writes her second memoir after Julie and Julia, which I had really enjoyed. I almost didn't read this one as I had seen poor reviews. But the first one had bad reviews also, and I liked that one a lot.


Julie Powell is fresh from the success of her first book and also her first affair. She has been seeing "D" for almost two years. Her husband is aware of the affair but they do not split up, at least not permanently. The story picks up as the affair is breaking up. Julie has become fascinated with butchery and is looking for an apprenticeship, which she eventually finds in a small butcher shop two hours out of the city. This eventually leads to travel to Argentina, Ukraine, and Tanzania to discover butchery in other cultures.


my review: I really liked this book. However, I'm not really sure why. I don't approve of infidelity, but worse is the disrespect that Julie seems to show her husband, and he in return. She is obsessed with D, texting him constantly, though aware that he husband reads her texts. He then indulges in his own affair, though more to punish her. The fact that for the most part, they stay together during this and not discussing the affair seems insane. But having never been married, perhaps I just don't understand. Julie doesn't want to divorce Eric, her husband, as she loves him and considers him more than a soul mate. They have been together since college.


I also have little tolerance for women that are obsessed with men as Julie is with D. Even after the affair ends, she continues to text him all the time, waiting for a response. I also get frustrated with people that seem to have such chaos in their lives.


I also am not a huge red meat person (though I did have more than one helping of prime rib at Christmas) and I love animals. The idea of reading about the butchering of these animals is not something that would hold appeal to me.


Yet, all that said, I liked the book. She is a great writer, maybe her honest portrayal of herself and her flaws won me over. And I guess I admired her commitment to such a difficult job as apprenticing as a butcher and her drive to really succeed. She also doesn't seem to rest on her laurels of her successful first book, barely even mentioning it.


The end was not as finished as I would have liked, but this is someone's real life, not a novel.

There are also some recipes interspersed throughout the book. Ultimately, it is the fact that she hides from nothing, whether it is her honesty with her husband about her affair, that she eats parts of meat most of us would balk at, even drinking goat's blood as part of a slaughter ritual in Tanzania, that makes me admire her or at least be able to appreciate her story.


This is not a book I would recommend to everyone, it does not have universal appeal, especially if you have a weak stomach or are a vegetarian. But it is frank, honest, and well-written.


my rating 4/5
http://bookmagic418.blogspot.com/

posted by debbook on December 26, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

For Whom It May Concern.

Yes, this book is different from Julie and Julia. Yes, it is the SAME person. For those who said they didn't like it because Julie had an affair, Boo Hoo. Julie is human, everybody makes mistakes, I'm not even done reading the entire book, and I can finish it without ju...
Yes, this book is different from Julie and Julia. Yes, it is the SAME person. For those who said they didn't like it because Julie had an affair, Boo Hoo. Julie is human, everybody makes mistakes, I'm not even done reading the entire book, and I can finish it without judging her. I'm sure she had Eric's permission to write this, he would definitely NOT find out about every little detail of the affair through the book.
However, Julie's writing style isn't awesome, I don't really like that she goes through EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of cleaving, I'm sure there's a better way of getting the point across other than saying everything she sees. It gets a little repetitive and boring after reading every cut and every movement of the same animal over and over again.
Before you started reading this book, you knew it was going to be more indepth about Julie, and probably not as "fun" as Julie and Julia.
Julie goes after something she wants to do, and has to sacrifice things in order to do them, some sacrifices harder than others.
Judge the writing more than the person. It might get you somewhere.

posted by Sess-Jooner on January 21, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2010

    Great read!!

    Great book, good fun and sad parts.....

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2009

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    Bitter Disappointment

    I love her first book and the movie so much that I was dying to read Cleaving. However, it is horrible on all levels. The talk of butchering is so vivid that I felt nauseated from start to finish. In addition, I found it sickening to brag about cheating on you husband. Read Julie and Julia insted.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A One-Woman Love Story

    Don't be mistaken - Julie Powell doesn't write about cooking. She writes about obsession. She owns obsession.

    In Cleaving, Powell sorts through the aftermath of an affair, unable to stop a consuming, emotionally damaging passion; yet she is also unable to fathom separation from her husband, a man who loves her limitlessly and whose life has been intertwined with hers since she was 18 years old.

    Powell attacks her emotional turmoil with a raw, brutal honesty that is rarely captured in print. Her candor reminds me of the intimate conversations I've had with my closest girlfriends when suffering through heartbreak that we just can't hide: the kind of heartbreak that leaves you unable to pretend to be strong or brave or even moral. Perhaps this is something that my friends and I have in common with her as New Yorkers - it's not uncommon to see women unabashedly weeping on the subway - and I'm not sure if love here is just more dramatic or we're all just used to public emotion. Regardless, Powell suffers NYC-style: openly, dramatically, obsessively.

    This is what makes Cleaving so compelling. She barely talks about Julie & Julia, cooking, or her success at all. She manages to keep her voice brutally honest even after the success of her first book, only slightly aware that there will be an audience. (Or maybe she is aware, but is so obsessed with her lover that she just doesn't care.) Even her new project, learning to be a butcher, is really just a distraction for her emotional turmoil, something to keep her from constantly checking her Blackberry for texts that never come.

    Honestly, this isn't the best book I've ever read: it's not the most focused, the most beautiful, or even as good as Julie & Julia. But it is a one-woman love story, and for anyone who has been there, it's impossible to turn away.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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