Thursday, November 4, 2010


Both of these titles share a common subject, meat. Cleaving by Julie Powell, author of the inspiration for a blockbuster movie Julia & Julie, is a memoir of a cook who becomes fascinated with butchery and her path to become a butcher. My Year of Meats, while a work of fiction, chronicles a year in the life of a young filmmaker who has been hired by beef lobbyists to create a series of television documentaries to be shown in Japan.

As a long-time dedicated vegetarian, meat is not a topic on which I am particularly fluent or even interested. My Year of Meats by Ruth L. Ozeki came my way a few years back when it was recommended by a local bookseller. At the time she thought it was one of the best things she had read in a long while and she was right. The author is telling several stories here, the American filmmaker's, the Japanese wife's and that of the beef industry. While the later might now sound enticing, the author manages to craft an entertaining and unique story. One reviewer said that this is a book that even a vegetarian could enjoy...and they were right.

Cleaving: A story of marriage, meat and obsession by Julie Powell is a much different story. Why it was intriguing I am still at a loss to articulate. Parts are a bit gross and descriptions of separating meat from sinew and bone were not enthralling and often difficult but for some yet to be discovered reason, I liked this one and am glad that I don't read the reviews, even though they were in part correct, until after I finish. See what you think.

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