Vote It Up: Book Blip

January 14, 2010

"Where Narcissism and Insecurity Converge"

Dear Lord, I finally finished Cleaving! I have been way-laid with my MFA graduate application during my free time this week (apparently, the deadline is tomorrow, not - as it was written on the application form - Feb. 1!), so I stayed up until 1:00 A.M. getting all of my application forms and essays printed, collated, stapled and neatly stacked for delivery and then I stayed up until 2:00 A.M. finishing the Powell's grisly mo-fo.
And unsatisfying it was. Surprise, I didn't like it. Didn't see that coming, did you?

Powell doesn't talk about her marriage until the book is 2/3 finished. Up until that point it is all meat and adultery. Now, I'm not a prude and I don't care if she had an affair, nor do I care about sexual description. But something about the way Powell writes about her lover and her obsessive behavior after their split left me cringing. (Did I need to know that her wrist cramped from masturbating to his image in her mind? NO!) Also cringe-worthy are her revolting details of dripping fluids from severed joints, skinned goats, and several full-on livestock killings. Oh, and drinking blood gleaned straight from a live cow in Africa. And, and, and her notion that all men are staring at her lasciviously at all times.

So, when she finally discusses her husband, Eric, it is completely confusing. They are soul mates who finish each others' sentences, fall asleep watch Buffy and tirelessly propping each other up. Why does he put up with her? Why does she keep him hanging on? There is no resolution at the end of this mess except that they no longer shout at each other in the middle of the night and they consider couples therapy!

I think what drives me the craziest about this book, versus Julie and Julia, is Powell's smugness. Sure she reveals the ugliness of her actions, but I couldn't help but feel the entire length of the book that she was smirking about it all. It's glib. Her metaphors between butchery and love/sex are obvious. She is overly self-conscious and whiny. When she was exhausted in Julie and Julia from 8 hours of office work paired with 5 hours of food prep, I understood, even empathized. But when she's exhausted from obsessively checking her Blackberry and taking her sexual frustration out on a side of beef, I just feel irritated. The title of this post is a quote from an review. I'm not alone in my disgust.

My copy of Cleaved is clean, free of marks and food stains. The binding is sound and I still have my receipt of sale. I'm well within the 30 days of purchase. I have NEVER returned a book before, but Powell has inspired me.