Julie Powell Cleaving Roundup [metacriticism]

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Photo AP/Carlo Allegri

The media assault around Julie Powell's Cleaving (Amazon) has been pretty relentless. Here's a roundup of reviews and interviews:

  • WSJ review: "Her debut book was authentic and disarmingly honest, and it originated in a task that she had assigned herself: Spend a year cooking Julia Child's recipes. 'Cleaving' often feels forced, like a chore performed to please an agent, a publisher and maybe a movie studio."
  • Christine Muhlke of the New York Times reviews it: "Her reliance on snark and pop-cultural references is cheap, but her sincere interest in butchery and love for the Fleisher’s crew bring the book’s slasher scenes to life."
  • Jezebel reviews it: "It's a disingenuous return to the primitive, but it's suspiciously on-trend."
  • Interview with the New York Post: "You know, some people are cool with it and some people aren’t. My mother decided not to read the book and to sort of let that go on by, which I completely understand." Also, one of the three comments: "This is entertainment? Good thing MSG carries hockey regularly otherwise there would be nothing at all on TV."

  • Times Online reviews it: "...more often than not it’s clumsy. Mulching around in a pig carcass, she complains about the glove she has to wear: 'Now I know why men hate condoms.' Bleurrghhh!"
  • Interview with Double X: On the sex scenes: "People seem to be quite shocked by some of what I portray, but it all seems fairly tame to me, compared to what you read a lot of male authors write about. Though the opening of Chapter Eight is when I always find myself saying, “And THIS is why my mother cannot read this book.”
  • Interview with Publishers Weekly: "If [readers] come out of the Nora Ephron romantic comedy, there’s going to be some psychic whiplash."
  • SF Gate reviews it: "...Powell's writing talent is considerable. But the book's failings overwhelm its strengths, and by a lot. For one thing, the inclusion of recipes in the book makes no sense. Powell is not a chef and cooking has next to nothing to do with the story. So the recipes only distract from the narrative."
  • Interview with Epicurious: "...I'm hoping to write some fiction. Two memoirs before the age of 40 is PLENTY."
  • Finally, Good Morning America has an excerpt and a video interview:

Video: Julie Powell GMA

—Raphael Brion

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