August 14, 2009
Meryl Streep is a great actress and Julia Child is a cultural force and an inspiration to anyone who has spent years in the kitchen. Nevertheless, I will not be seeing the new movie, Julie and Julia, in which the famous actress plays the famous cook. It may very well be that Nora Ephron crafted a good script from a very bad book. Still, I won’t see the movie. The book was just too appallingly bad. Julie Powell, the author, is a writer who set out to make all the recipes in Child’s famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That was a great idea. Unfortunately, Powell is the anti-Julia of American pop culture. She is vain, undisciplined, messy, heavy-drinking and immoral. The book begins with her describing a visit to a clinic to sell eggs. Not chicken eggs, her eggs. It is the typical admixture of self-revelation and self-apology common to confessional literature today. It was a disservice to the everyday art of cooking, which requires self-deflation for its survival.