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15 February 2010

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This book continues to sound absolutely repulsive to me. The best way to shake this horrid thing off is to read a gloriously written (and illustrated) memoir. I'll just think about Fun Home for the next minute or so.

I disagree with the first part of your starred comment. Blog writing REALLY IS writing. It has its own set of rules and constraints, just like other formats do. Just because it isn't a book or a short story or a newspaper article doesn't mean it isn't writing. Don't sell yourself short.

But I agree with the second part: books thrown together from blog posts are not books.

I will skip reading Julie Powell's book. I had already planned to do so based on all the other reports. Did anyone LIKE this book?

Maybe it has something to do with the popularity of reality shows or the ease of letting the whole world into your private life through social media, but I don't understand why anyone would be interested in reading about someone’s sex life and marital problems. (To be perfectly honest, I had a hard time believing she was actually married in the first book – she was so obnoxious. Did anyone else feel this way?)

Thanks for the review. I wasn't planning on reading this book, but now I am definitely not going anywhere near it.

I actually watched "Julie and Julia" a few months ago. It was hilarious.

OMG. I tried to listen to this book and was completely put off by all the embarassing details of her blatant extramartial affair. She has to be completely self absorbed not to give a crap how awful this whole crazy affair would affect her family and friends. I agree blog writing doesn't make for good memoirs and this one absolutely didn't cut it. I will not be recommending "cleaving" any time soon.

I agree: blogging is NOT serious writing. Tossing a bunch of blog posts together for a book? Awful. Have never read such a "book" either.

As for the butcher angle, ARGH! I'm a vegetarian, and that really grosses me out. Haven't read/seen Julie/Julia either -- not food obsessed.

Bybee,
Your instinct is correct, don't go near it.

Becky,
My apologies for unclear blog writing. (How ironic is that?) I enjoy a lot of bloggers' writing, very much, and every blogger writes differently. I should clarify that it's MY blog writing to which I'm referring--putting up something nearly every day, and doing it outside of paid work time, means that most of my writing here is pretty sloppy, and it doesn't approach real "book reviewing" in any way. (I am painfully aware of this whenever I read a true, good book review.) That's all. And I wouldn't have minded if Julie Powell's book did start as a blog, I just think they should have edited it more stringently when moving it into book form.

Some reviewers did think Powell's writing is effortless to read, and to an extent I have to agree with that. I wasn't really enjoying it, but I still read half of it, and pretty quickly. But just because something's easy to read doesn't always make it something you should be reading.

SWG,
Your comment made me laugh--I didn't understand the hoopla about the first book either, primarily because I thought she was obnoxious too! Perfect word choice.

Brandon,
It would be very trite of me, but if I had a time machine, I think I would actually take a few minutes to go back and watch you watching that movie, just for the commentary.

Katharine,
I couldn't agree more. For some reason it bothered me more than other books that are sexually explicit--Chelsea Handler comes to mind--because I just couldn't imagine living the lifestyle. I could never quite wrap my head around wanting TWO men at once (who's got that kind of time and energy, first of all?), and then throwing on a third for an anonymous throwdown? Yikers. Glad to know you're out there not recommending this one.

Cara,
Oh yeah, not the book for you. The meat parts are described down to the very last detail. (Although, in all fairness to animals, I wish we could get back to a system of small farmers, small butchers--it would be a lot kinder. That part of this narrative I actually found quite interesting.)

I seem to be spending a lot of time thanking you for reading books so I don't have to (maybe you should work that into your tag line?!). I read J&J before seeing the movie, and parts of it (mostly the Julia parts, and the dealing with NYC apartments parts (pure nostalgia)) were interesting, but I thought the writing stunk to high heaven, and she was a whiner of epic proportions.

On a related note, I thought the parts in Eating Animals about the small (boutique-ish) slaughterhouse were the most interesting parts. Odd.

I had the exact same reaction to Julie and Julia so I had no desire to read Cleaving. How many memoirs do we need of Julie and her relationship with food? It's a one-hit-wonder. Time to move on.

Hey, Rachael,
No problem. I'm glad to take the book bullets when necessary. It's nice to think I provide an actual service. :)
I totally agree with you about the small slaughterhouses in "Eating Animals"--the only part of that book I enjoyed.

Esther,
I'm with you. I for one don't need to read any more memoirs by this woman, ever, and I don't think I'll be checking out the movie either!

I haven't heard anything good about this memoir yet. Even the description turned me off of it. I have to say, I'm disappointed.

Well, Miranda, if you haven't heard anything good, I think that's probably because there's just not a whole lot of good to be said here. I'd love to hear if someone had a different opinion, and what they liked about it, but it was definitely not for me.

I read an Amazon.com description of this book to my friend and co-worker Becka (who loathed the Julie part of Julie and Julia --the movie, that is) and she moaned and put her hands over her ears.
My eyes felt scummy after reading just the blurb. I can't imagine the whole book, especially since I wasn't a fan of J&J.

Isn't this what's known as a "blook"?

Nora Ephron inserted the "Julia" story into the movie b/c the "Julie" part just wasn't enough. It's the right age cohort - the "obsessively self-revelatory" schtick that another blogger rants about. Is this "Eat Pray Love" territory?

Savvy Working Gal: "To be perfectly honest, I had a hard time believing she was actually married in the first book – she was so obnoxious. Did anyone else feel this way?"

I totally agree. When I reviewed Julie and Julia ages ago when I still kept up my blog, I think I outright called her a bitch. Thanks CR for putting up with this book so we don't have to.

Bybee,
I couldn't agree more. When I finally stopped reading it I felt dirty too, and returned it as soon as I could to the library.

Sarah,
Well, Nora Ephron's no idiot; the Julia Child connection is really the best part of J & J. And, I really don't think it's a problem of excessive self-revelation. To an extent, that sort of thing is why memoirs are so compelling--they are personal. But let's face it, it's hard to do excessive self-revelation well, and it's hard to do it without a bigger dose of humor than Powell injected. This is where I think once again of Chelsea Handler--even when she's revealing too much, she's quite hilarious about it, and you almost have to go along for the ride. (And Handler's not really one of my favorites, she's just the only example of TMI I can think of right now.) Actually, I do know someone who's done this better: Jancee Dunn, in her memoir "But Enough About Me," which is both self-revelatory and spectacular.

Emily,
Ha! The most refreshing part of this post has been learning that "Julie and Julia" was not as universally popular as I thought it was. Yay!

Hear! Hear! I have been incredibly underwhelmed and frustrated by the current blog-to-book phenomenon. You put it perfectly!

Molly,
I wouldn't mind the blogs-to-books if any of these publishers were decent enough to pay a good editor who could whip the books into shape. But I would suppose that would cut into their already pretty ugly bottom lines.

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