Every horrible review you've read of Julie Powell's Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, is right on.
I was not a huge fan of Powell's bestselling memoir Julie and Julia; I read it mainly because I love Julia Child and I was curious about it. When I read it I thought it was easy to see that it was compiled from blog posts, and not very cohesively at that. The story was okay, but I thought it could have used a lot tighter editing.*
So when she published this, her second memoir, I knew I probably wouldn't love it, but I actually got curious after reading some bad reviews of it. (This is why I never mind "bad" reviews. Sometimes they pique my interest more than positive ones do.) So I read a lot of it over the weekend, getting to maybe the halfway point before I had to stop. The story is, once again, fairly simple: Powell decides she wants to learn how to be a butcher, so she apprentices herself in a butcher shop a couple of hours away from her home in New York City. At the same time, she is experiencing a rocky period in her marriage--primarily because she has been having an affair (that she doesn't want to stop) for some time, and her husband knows about it.
For whatever reasons, I really enjoyed the bits where she discussed her growing mastery of meat cutting techniques. (I've been ridiculously hungry for burgers and steaks lately, which probably increased my fascination.) But the parts about her affair and marriage? Too weird for me, man, by half. When I got to the part where she went out and engaged in "the worst sex in the world with a total stranger" in order to forget her lover and then immediately texted him about it, I not only put this book down, never to return, but I have now placed a moratorium on all memoirs for at least a week. Uch. Rough sex with strangers and a foodie hook. Is this all it takes to get a memoir deal these days?
*I say this as a blogger: blog posts are not really writing, and books simply thrown together from blog posts are not really books.