This weekend I finished Cleaving, the second novel by Julie Powell of Julie and Julia fame. Unlike Julie and Julia, which resulted in a huge movie deal and much acclaim, the general public was disgusted and uninterested in Cleaving (I found Linda Holmes review for NPR most interesting). In short, Cleaving is a glorified memoir of Powell’s affair with an old boyfriend alongside her personal exploration of butchering and some across-seas travel. In general, I agree with Holmes’ analysis that Powell’s second novel lacked perspective, or any analysis of emotions Powell went through (she describes many nights crying herself to sleep without really digging into why). However, I also believe the general public was put-off by Powell’s open descriptions of her and her husband’s affairs (they both fooled around, if that makes it better or worse) and refused to acknowledge the moments of literary quality that do exist in the novel. The metaphor of butchering, including long passages describing deconstructing animals, is interesting when paralleled with the protagonist’s troubled marriage. And the insertion of text messages, emails, letters, and (of course) recipes, into the text is compelling. But that said, I am glad to be done with this book, and excited to move on to The Girl Who Played With Fire (the best-selling second installment in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo saga by Stieg Larsson).