Monday, March 1, 2010


My turn with one of the library's copies of Julie Powell's second memoir Cleaving finally came. Buying books doesn't happen often when you've got two tuition bills and the endless stream of monetary responsibilities that come with private schools.

Long story short- I liked it.

For a number of reasons her first book was of little interest to me. I had read bits and pieces of her salon blog but I think part of it was sheer envy. Why hadn't I thought of that? With time and money to spare I had spent much of 2000-2002 cooking out of the ordinary recipes. From the slightly exotic (babas au rhum) to the dated (baked alaska) I had a blast- plus I ended up pregnant. My blackness makes me less marketable but America loves breeders, in theory if not in practice. So I've neither seen Julie & Julia nor read the book.

But a story about a marriage in trouble, anonymous sex and food is right up my alley. The first two more then the last simply because I'm more of bread and pasta, cake and ice cream kind of girl and this book is first and foremost about meat. Powell's six months as a butcher's apprentice leads to a jaunt around the globe which includes plenty of sausage making and drinking goats blood. Not for those of us happily disengaged from the source of their meat. Though I'm not one of these insipid parents who are irritated when their precious progeny spot whole dead animals at an upscale artisanly butcher shop. Quelle horreur progressive mommies- hope little Madison/Marley/Mandela isn't scarred for life...

This year long quest is in part fueled by the breakdown of her marriage and an affair with a college friend/lover who is well known to her husband. So well known in fact that he stays as an overnight guest and they pet on a couch before the husband wakes up. Let's rub the lipstick off our teeth and say "Messy, Messy, Messy!" ala Wendy Williams. Maybe that should be my blog cum book cum movie deal- my year of trying to get thru that train wreck of a show. Aww- who am I kidding, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Wendy because of her Hot 97 FM days.

Anyway, in addition to that affair she has a series of encounters with strangers for submissive sex. Sparked by the unraveling of the affair, they are described as unsatisfying which makes sense given the context.

My own experiences with anonymous sex (some of it light BDSM, some vanilla) were much the opposite. But the circumstances that found me in strange apartments doing familiar things were buoyed by a sense of fun and excitement. Looking back at my early 20's- with no one to answer to and nothing to lose (except of course my life. I was as cautious as one could be and statistically more likely to be killed by one of the losers I was ostensibly dating) I feel a sense of joy and contentment.

A decade ago, Jim and I would cuddle up and read books simultaneously, stopping every couple of pages to discuss or debate. Those days are long gone, our taste have diverged quite a bit as I plow thru an endless stream of mindless romances & thoughtful short story collections while he favors Elmore Leonard (who is still churning them out at 80!)

Cleaving is that rare find that holds something for each of us. He's started it & will probably skim all of the relationship sections and devour the meat ones. I see lots of pig centric meals in my future!


  1. I was wondering if I should put a hold request for that at our local library! Thanks for the review! I think I will! Good to see you posting again!

  2. You have to let me know what you think of it & It's Not the Stork. Jim jokes that the kids can pick up their sex ed info as they go along like he did but we're not going that route : )