Book Review-Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession
I wanted to like this book because I loved Julie & Julia by Julie Powell which led to the movie Julia starring Meryl Streep.
If you like reading a memoir about butchering animals and bad love, no, make that obsessive-compulsive bad love – then you will love Cleaving.
Although I’m not a vegetarian nor a vegan, the very graphic scenes of butchering was upsetting almost revolting. I eat meat. Not a lot, certainly less than last year after watching the movie, Food, Inc. but still eat meat to some extent just less of it.
At the end of Julie & Julia, Julie Powell had to be riding high on her success as a writer and ability to accomplish making a complicated Julia Child’s recipe every single day for a year. Hell, I was impressed that she went from blogger to book author and her book was the premise for a movie. That is every blogger’s dream.
Then along comes the book Cleaving which is totally raw in every sense of the word.
I can imagine that after having a successful first book, that to write an equally successful book is not easy or perhaps not even possible. Certainly, the pressures to reproduce on that level are higher than a perfect souffle.
In her book Cleaving, Ms. Powell is not happy. Her affair with “D” goes downhill (he sounds like a self-serving prick). Her husband because of her affair with “D” is also having an affair. To escape, she becomes a butcher apprentice away from NYC where she rents an apartment and works hard to the point of developing aching carpal tunnel, a byproduct of the meat cutting industry.
For me, it’s downright painful to see this woman whom I so admired grappling with such low self esteem. She seems lost. Where’s the Prozac?
But to her credit, she has the guts to write about it.
After she finishes her apprenticeship, Ms. Powell moves back to the city but is still not happy so gets on a plane to Argentina. I was hoping she would eat a lot of gelato and have a few torrid one night stands but no such thing. She goes to the stockyard and watches too much slaughter. Somewhere along the line she drinks blood and then goes to Tanzania where some bad things almost happen.
What’s more amazing to me is that I actually read most of the book but skipped over much of the gore. I guess I was hoping for a happy ending…so much for great expectations.
While her first book was a delicious truffle, this book requires a strong antacid.
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