Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oh, dear. I've cut the dickens out of my hand.

It's been a long week.

I could write about the rumor mill at Corporate Behemoth, about all of the "The massive layoffs are going to be Friday. No, Monday. No, Tuesday and Thursday" comments. And I could chat it up about the clandestine spreadsheet being forwarded to and fro that will take your start date, your salary, and your accrued vacation and spit out the amount of your probable severance package. I could even casually mention that the word on the street is that between 40 and 50 percent of the people in my building will get the axe.

But I won't.

Instead? I'm going to write a book report.

Like most women in the United States, I saw Julie and Julia last summer. I loved it - found it very engaging and uplifting, and who could say a bad thing about Meryl Streep's performance?

Not me. Loooooved her.

But Julie and Julia was the first movie ever where people came up to me out of the blue and announced that a character made them think of me. Friends and coworkers and acquaintances all said, "OMG, Cha Cha. Julie in the movie is so funny and she's a writer and she just totally made me think of you! You have to see this movie!"

Flattering? Yes. Almost as much as that time in eighth grade when somebody told me that I looked like Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. From behind. With my perm.

So, anyway. I loved the movie. And seeing as how I can't seem to listen to the radio in my car anymore, I am at the mercy of the public library for audio books of all sorts. Since their selection is sparse at best, I often listen to stuff that I wouldn't otherwise read. And so it was with Cleaving, Julie Powell's latest book.

Cleaving picks up where Julie and Julia left off. Our narrator is over having cooked up a storm, over having sold a book that got turned into a movie. She's now obsessed with learning the art of butchery. Good enough.

She's also obsessed with her lover. And she's still married. And her husband knows about the affair but she can't stop seeing the other dude. So her husband starts seeing another woman. And Julie doesn't blame him. And meanwhile she's learning how to take an entire beef carcass and turn it into, like, food.

And all the while I'm listening to this, I think, "I can't believe all those people thought that I was like Julie! I would never fuck around on my man!"

Which is probably a very narcissistic and superficial view of the book. Really, she was being incredibly brave and authentic by telling the part of her story that could be viewed as shameful. She was honest. She used writing the book as therapy. I feel like I should commend her for her self-awareness ... although it made me uncomfortable and felt self-indulgent.

But mostly? I thought Cleaving was a treatise on the dangers of marrying your high school sweetheart.

And so what did the library have for me after Cleaving? Well, Julie and Julia. Because while I saw the movie, I never read the book. And I wanted to see if the icky impression I had after Cleaving would remain after Julie and Julia. I was looking for my palate to be cleansed.

Did it work? Umm?

Julie and Julia is funny in a self-deprecating way. And I learned all about French cooking. But really? I didn't finish the book actually liking the author, which was a shock only in that after seeing the movie, I felt like we could be BFFs. Because in the movies, everybody could be your BFF - that's why they're called chick flicks.

But books? Well, they're a bit more complicated. Like life. And that's cool.

What have you been reading lately?


Loonstruck said...

What kinds of books do you like?

Me? I'm a fantasy girl. And a librarian that serves teens so it works out pretty well for me. I just finished Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman. I loved the girl power and the parallels to my western imagination about Chinese culture. And The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Also girl power and more mystery than fantasy.

If you live in the Metro area and have a card to any one of the "big" systems (KCMO, Johnson County, Mid-Continent, KCK), you can use that card at any of the other systems on that list. I work in KCK and we have a fairly good audio collection and I imagine that Mid-Continent does as well, mostly because they are HUGE!

Cyndi B. said...

I read Julie and Julia and didn't like it all that much. I found myself skipping to the parts about Julia. So I think I'll skip Cleaving. Thanks for saving me the time!

What I'm reading depends on what room I'm in. The living room means I'm reading Home by Julie Andrews. The kitchen means I'm "reading" the Better Homes and Gardens book of Mexican Cooking. The bedroom means I'm reading She Got Up Off the Couch for the third that book! I need to go to the library, but I'm so bad about returning things, I'm sure I owe money!

mel said...

The hubster conned me into starting this fantasty series titled 'A Game of Thrones'. 4 books thus far in the series (of a proposed 7) and none of them less than 800 pages. In the olden days I'd have been happy with such a challenge. Now? It just ticks me off. I don't have time to read like I used to and now 2 books in I feel like I'm too devoted to quit. The story and character development are good though so at least I have that.

Unfortunately, my reading time is mostly taken up these days with 'Duck and Goose', 'Little Quack' and 'I Am A Bunny'. While artful and cute, they just don't tickle the ole brain in the same fashion as my pre-baby reading choices.

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

I have heard that about Julie & Julia! The part about not liking the author very much. I haven't read the book, though - just saw the movie.

I do love to read, though. Mostly fiction, with an emphasis on mysteries and series. (And that rhymes, but I promise I didn't do it on purpose.) I have, recently, read more memoirs and non-fiction than before. And it's good to expand my horizons and repertoire and all that. But my favorite? Is still a good novel.

Also. I'm so sorry to hear about your stress at Corporate Behemoth. So far in my career, I've avoided that kind of scenario. As a result, my layoff three years ago came as a major shock, but I think that might be preferable to the prolonged strain you and your colleagues are suffering right now. I hope resolution, whatever that may be, comes soon.

hope505 said...

I'm partial to biographies and memoirs...other peoples' lives are particularly fascinating to me.
* : )

Anonymous said...

Cleaving is on my list to read because I LIKED Julie and Julia so much. And my view of the author is totally skewed by the movie's version, naturally.
I read "The Art of Racing in the Rain" most recently--you should look for it, it's a dog-lover's kind of book. Author is Garth Stein.

sherilee said...

I was going to make some comment about abandoning Cleaving because I didn't like the whole cheating aspect, but then I realized I'm reading (well, actually listening to) The Politician by Andrew Young, about John Edwards' cheating ass taking down his political aspiration. Ha! Cuz I'm consistent like that.

I will hope to move on to more meaty and worthwhile reading. Good books ARE on my bookstand...

hope505 said...

I can just picture an Editor saying, "...toss in a good cheat! Emotional turmoil drives a plot...people love reading about the angst of others!"

hope505 said...

I can just picture an Editor saying, "...toss in a good cheat! Emotional turmoil drives a plot...people love reading about the angst of others!"

JeanGenie said...

Corporate Behemoth: Meh. Ehn. Bleck. You're too wonderful for a clandestine spreadsheet to explain.

You're only like Julie Powell in that you have a fantastic sense of style and are hawt with short hair. Wait. That's Amy Adams.

I read the book before seeing the movie and thought she was a self-indulgent princess. I liked the movie because 1) Meryl Streep + Julia Child = amazing and 2) the movie Julie Powell was tolerable as played by Amy Adams.

The idea of reading a whole book about adultery and butchering is more than I could handle.

My fave book lately was The Forgotten Garden. It was fabulous in a modern gothic way.

Caron said...

That's a good review. I'm about to read Eat Pray Love or whatever it is called. My coworker tells me the woman in the book is me - that she thinks it is me when she is reading. I hope that's flattering...

Janet said...

I actually really liked the book Julie and Julia, but I can't bring myself to read Cleaving. I think all the butchery would bother me! I didn't even know about the adultery part. lol