New York: Hachette Audio, 2009
Source: library copy
Rating: liked it okay: 3/5 stars
Earlier this year I listened to Julia Child's My Life In France. As a fan of the movie Julie & Julia, I was fascinated by what Nora Ephron chose to use and what not to use from Julia's memoir in the storyline she wrote for the movie.
Prior to listening to My Life in France I wasn't interested in reading Julie Powell's memoir, Julie & Julia. But the more I thought about how Nora Ephron used what she used from Julia's story, the more curious I became about how she used Julie's story.
If you haven't seen the movie Julie & Julia, what Ephron did was tell Julia Child's and Julie Powell's stories a parallel fashion based on their respective memoirs, My Life in France and Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Powell's memoir was based on her blog The Julie/Julia Project.
Listening to Powell's book cleared up a few things about the movie. For example, the scene where her boss tells her a republican would have fired her always struck me as odd, a bit out of place. It fell flat because that was the only overt political reference made in Julie's storyline. But this lone remark in the movie is clarified in the book where consistent reference is made regarding sniping between democrats and republicans. In the movie, Ephron was more consistent in weaving the poltical divide between Julia (a liberal democrat) and her father (a conservative McCarthy supporting republican). I can only imagine the amount of film they had to cut from what Ephron actually shot, so perhaps the contemporary political arguments ended up on the cutting room floor.
Ephron also cleaned Julie up. Way up. In the book you get her potty mouth, more dirty dishes, and a lovely description of the maggots that Julie found thriving in her kitchen, among other things. Like Julia Powell, I used to have a potty mouth (courtesy of the United States Marine Corps). I've cleaned it up over the years and listening to this book showed me how far I've come to the other side of this issue. I am certainly no prude, but now believe that less is more when it comes to swearing. Words like 'fuck,' 'bitch,' and 'goddamn' are more effective when used sparingly and intentionally. Knock-on-wood that I'll never have to deal with a swarm of thriving maggots.
I did, however, get a kick out of Bitch Rice. And I enjoyed Powell's reading of her own work as well as her writing. She has some nice sentences that made me rewind to hear again. One example is this one made in regard to addressing her weight gain over the year of cooking buttery food and eating too late at night: "And while I have not bloated to a New Yorker's Midwest airport nightmare proportions, neither would I call myself svelte or sophisticated."
As a Midwesterner who usually rolls her eyes over regional put-downs, I can also appreciate those that are new and fresh.
One thing that was not cleared up by listening to this book--and which I'd hoped would be--is the issue of aspics. Why were they ever created? Who ate them and why? When?
Have you made or eaten aspic? Please share your experience. Inquiring minds want to know all about it!