30 Day Book Meme – Day 11

Day 11 – A book you hated (and boy isn’t that an ugly word!)

If you’ve known me any length of time, you know how much I detest Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I detest not only the story, the writing, the point, the purpose, the vile, the filth, the … well, I’ll let you read what I wrote back in 2008. Please note, that if I picked up this book today, I wouldn’t finish it. Life changing events occurred in 2008 & 2009, and I no longer feel I can’t give up on a book (especially one like this). After all, life is much too short and filled with too much joy and beauty to bog myself down in rubbish, especially hateful rubbish. Still, for the purpose of this meme, here’s my review—and be sure to read to the end for a photo that’s refreshing.

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell
Little, Brown and Company
Reviewed: Jan 19, 2008 by Kimberly Andrew

Julie Powell hopes to pull herself out of the rut that is her life by cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1 years time. An interesting project, and one I thought would be a fun read.

I had hoped to read cooking stories – the funny stories, not-so funny stories, successful stories, and the inevitable failures. Instead I found myself reading a foul-mouthed treatise on sex, politics, bigotry, bad manners, drinking and other not-so charming things.

Julie & Julia is a morass of clichés and liberal ideology. Ms. Powell constantly blasts Republicans (spitting out the word like she was speaking of the filth in the street gutter) for being insensitive to the “common man”; yet she describes her job working with the families of the 9/11 victims as “emotional sh** work”. Contrast this with her story of killing lobsters and how it upset her so. Perhaps if Ms. Bloom (see footnote below)  actually had some compassion for those she was hired to help, and to her fellow “common man”, she’d be a better person all around.

Throughout the book, Ms. Powell snivels constantly about her biological time clock, yet she has tantrums when she sees a doctor and he/she has the nerve to tell her that her biological clock is ticking; then she openly confesses to having sold her eggs (twice) for money to pay off credit card debt. It seems to me that not using the plastic card until you can’t pay it off, thereby learning some responsibility, would have served this woman better. Lord save us all if Ms. Powell ever does have children.

Apparently Ms. Powell is proud of the issues she has with keeping her home clean and tidy – as she brazenly shares about her sloppy house keeping. Being privy to her sloppy habits leaves me wondering how she, her husband, and their numerous dinner guests avoided trips to the hospital with food poisoning. One of the not-so charming house keeping episodes related in the book involved backed-up plumbing that filled the sinks, tub and toilet with “vile black sh*t” composed of heaven only knows what. This “vile black sh*t” was left to bubble for an evening while Julie and Eric got drunk on Gimlets. Later on, she relates that she allowed a guest to use the bathroom, forgetting to tell him that there were calves brains soaking in the sink. This would be the same sink that months earlier had “vile black sh*t” in it; and given Ms. Powell’s lack of cleaning skills – the thought of anyone eating the calves brains that soaked in that sink … well, I honestly thought I’d throw up at this point.

I do think, however, that the absolutely most disgusting moment involved her kitchen being filled with flies and maggots. In spite of the flies, she continues to make turnovers. While they bake she attempts to swat all the flies, but they seem to multiply in death. Rather than deal with them, Ms. Powell decides to wash the dishes – several days worth of dishes. The sink doesn’t want to drain, again, but apparently she washes the dishes anyhow and stands them in the rack to dry. (If you are feeling a bit nauseous reading this, you aren’t alone.) As she puts the dishes away she suddenly notices that those pesky flies are really thick near the sink. (How did this escape her while she washed the dishes, and have these flies been landing on her “clean” dishes? ICK!) About this time Ms. Powell also notices a smell, which doesn’t surprise her – and she investigates and discovers the “ … thriving colony of maggots.” Being an enterprising couple, she and Eric sweep the maggots into a sink of bleach water. What happened next? I’ll let the author tell you …

After that we pretty much went about our business. Awful as it was, this wasn’t quite as traumatic as it might have been for other people because after a year of this, part of you just assumes there’s gotta be some maggots somewhere around.

She goes on to share: “ … the kitchen was absolutely disgusting — dabs of butter stuck to the side of the fridge, various meat juices spattered in violent arcs across the walls, layers of doughy, buttery, dusty, cat-hairy crap on every surface.”

Having made this observation, Ms. Powell goes on to make food for her guests. I honestly was so stunned at this point that I sat and reread this section. I’ve been keeping house for myself and my family for over 35 years, and I have never – never – had maggots in my kitchen. Nor did I ever assume they’d be in my kitchen. It’s a wonder the health department didn’t drop in for a visit and condemn her kitchen.

I could, of course, discuss the soufflé dish that fell to the street, shattered, was scooped up by our intrepid chef/secretary and dumped on the counter of the staff kitchen with a note encouraging everyone to “Please Enjoy!”. Ms. Powell then told the Democrats in the office to “ … take a pass since there might be ceramic shards or antifreeze in it.”

Or we could discuss the night she threw a temper fit over ruined Sauce Tartare (calling Julia Child a b**** in the process) while her husband is wondering if his aunt is alive or dead. When he confronts her, justifiably angry, she writes: “It would kill me to say that he was right.”

Or we could discuss … but … enough is enough.

It should go without saying that I found Ms. Powell to be a self-centered, selfish, foul-mouthed, bigoted, and uncaring woman. She lacks any compassion for others; she paints people with a broad brush filled with her own cold, bigoted views; and really needs her mouth washed out with soap. Add in her appalling lack of concern for hygiene in her home and we have one disgusting human being. Why any publisher would pay good money to publish this filthy tripe is beyond me.

So why did I keep reading this book? I asked myself that several times, and I never really came up with a good answer. I guess it’s because I’m trying to read different types of books this year (and this is certainly a different type of story), and I’m trying to not give up on books. Also, I reached a point where I wanted to finish so that I could have fun panning the book. Yes, sometimes I’m not a real nice person either. Heh!

My rating for the book and the author are the same: -5 (yes MINUS). I will give back 1 point because this book stirred my emotions, and I always think that’s a good thing; so my final rating: -4

3/11/12 footnote: [Bloom? Not sure why I have this name in here, and I’m not about to re-read the book to see if it’s accurate or a typo on my part]

A bowl of summer flowers


Filed under Books, Photos

4 responses to “30 Day Book Meme – Day 11

  1. Lois

    Wow… so different than the movie. Usually I think the book is/will be richer, more interesting or just plain better than the movie, but obviously not here.

  2. Lar

    Wow it sounds disgusting. We saw the movie which we all liked but it was nothing like what you describe here.

  3. I’ve not seen the movie, but if the movie had been true to the book, folks would have walked out of the theater. ;-D

  4. I read the book after I saw the movie – big mistake as you so eloquently state. I only finished it because I am a fast reader and was trapped on a plane 😉 I didn’t leave the book anywhere for someone else to ‘enjoy’ either, as I normally would.
    Iris (http://inmyworld-2012inphotographs.blogspot.com.au/)
    finally tricked wordpress into letting me comment by opening a wordpress account…