I finished "Julie & Julia" by Julie Powell today in order to prepare for the upcoming movie. Normally, I don't read books with movie tie-ins, but I'm reviewing the movie for the Summer Wildcat. (The movie is also pulling material from "My Life in France," Julia Child's memoir of her formative years in France, so I'll have to make as much progress into that as I can.)
After reading Powell's book, I'm of two lines of thought. In one, I enjoyed reading the cooking ordeals and triumphs that Powell experiences. With the other, I found myself exasperated with many of the events.
It's admirable that Powell chose to tackle the first volume of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in order to have something more in her life than a government secretary job. This is no different than someone who decides to create an organic garden in a rented home or starts knitting sweaters for the homeless or something. We crave meaning in our lives through our endeavors. But instead of rallying to her cause, I found myself often wishing that Powell would quit whining and stop acting like such an awful person.
I guess the main problem I had with the book is that cooking looks to be mostly a horrible affair, fraught with danger and inedible treats. Even reading the triumphs were not enough of a palliative to the noxious (or is that obnoxious?) effects of book. Cooking should be seen as a fun adventure, not a necessary hassle.
Yet for the sake of the story and ourselves, what progress can there be if we start from a state of perfection, or, perhaps, a state of satisfaction? If that were the case with Powell's book, I don't think I would have had the patience to read past the first chapter, let alone finish it.
So, it has an interesting premise and moments of sympathy and humor, but I can't recommend this book to most of my friends.
Tags: memoir, writing, journalism, cooking, movies
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