20 July 2011

Review: Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment KitchenJulie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Some people go on pilgrimages; Julie Powell attempted to master one cookbook. Thirty years old, bored with her job, hating her Queens apartment, Powell decided to transcend her life by concocting all 524 recipes in Julia Child's 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking -- in a single year. Replicating Child's kitchen artistry at such short notice tested Julie's skill and stamina, not to mention her husband's patience; but it did produce a high-spirited, sometimes hilarious memoir.
Imagine you have a wonderful friend who’s gone on a breath-taking adventure, full of ups and downs and tantalizing details, and all you want to do is share it with her by sitting down and listening to her story. Now imagine your friend getting drunk, going through a couple packs of cigarettes, tell you all about the sex lives of her best friends, while lacing her account with curse words, and not really talking about her epic quest.

This is Julie Powell’s book.

Julie Powell embarks on something pretty cool. She decides that in one year she’s going to cook through Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, out of her small and sort of embarrassing apartment kitchen. This sounds fun and witty, until you start to read.

From the first page I knew I was going to hate it. Powell is vulgar, insensitive, and just the sort of person you don’t even want to share the same city with. She quips insulting comments about… well, nearly everybody, swears like a sailor, treats her husband like dirt, and for some reason all she has to talk about is her friends and their sex lives. Really, who wants to read that?

Every so often, and these were the good parts, she would talk about cooking. They were fun and witty, and I felt her pain at trying to cook rather difficult dishes. This is what I thought the book was supposed to be about… but then she’d stop talking about the food and start talking about how some passage in the cook book reminded her of sex.

There were these random sections of italic print that were supposed to be flashbacks of Julia Child’s life, but they were so out of place it was ridiculous. It made me feel like she just wanted to get paid for bitching about her life, and then she’d stop, write something that had something to do with the title of her book, and go on. Really?

I just cannot stand this book because I cannot stand Julie Powell. She complains about her turning 30, well she’s acting like she’s three. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, unless you like listening to a middle-aged temp whine about her life, talk about her friends’ romps in the sack, or treat her poor, devoted husband horribly while he’s trying to live her life and keep her happy.

And yes, the movie, as mediocre as it was, was BETTER than the book.

What a great premise, what an awful author. It caught my attention, and against my better judgment I decided to dive in for a good read, but was only sickened by the idea that somebody so vulgar could still be published. Published aside, what about admired? I still couldn’t get past half of what she said, and I don’t even know how much of it was true. (She openly admits she just plain made stuff up.)

The best part about the book; The End.

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  1. New follower! Saw what you said about writing for the weekly question on Random Buzzers and decided to stop by and follow. <3

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