Julie Powell on Butchering and Other Savage Acts
Julie Powell made a name for herself by turning Julia Child's masterwork, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, into a confessional, super-human, freak-show challenge, which didn't do much to endear Powell to the late author.
Powell's latest, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession, apparently plumbs even darker recesses of the author's psyche. (Y&H hasn't read the book yet and don't know if I will.) Don't be misled by this video or by Powell's quote below about butchering (which appears to mock macho "weekend-warrior butchers"):
"I think a lot of male butchers, the weekend-warrior butchers, want to...'Ah, it's violent! I'm dominating this piece of meat! I'm killing it!'" [Powell makes a stabbing motion with her arm.]
I'm not sure what to make of this slap given what the New York Times emphasizes in its review of Powell's new memoir: the author's relationship with a man who beat her up. Writes the Times' reviewer Christine Muhlke:
“Cleaving” promises marriage, meat and obsession, but the object of said obsession is not a standing rib roast. It’s a man she calls D, who likes trussing our anti-heroine and covering her in bruises before sending her home to cook for her husband. The woman who came across as simply whiny and self-absorbed in the film reveals a dark, damaged persona. Nora Ephron won’t be touching this one with a 20-foot baguette.
Powell and her “long-suffering husband,” Eric, are really suffering now. Unsatisfied by her new career, the author (“just call me Julie ‘Steamroller’ Powell”) — whose motto is “Want. Take. Have.” — has a two-year affair with D. His forceful wanting/taking/having of her instills the confidence that being played by Amy Adams in the movie apparently did not. “It was when he smilingly roughed me up that I finally felt fierce, strong — emancipated,” she writes of his first smack.
I do have to wonder how long Powell can continue to mine her own neuroses for profit until she totally self destructs or her audience grows tired of the exercise. Thoughts, folks?