Food Memoirs, again

So, FD has finished reading both of Julie Powell’s food-life memoirs.  As noted, Cleaving was not well received by most readers.  It reminded FD of an old (well he wasn’t at the time) hippie FD knew back in the 1960s.  This fellow was convinced that anyone/everyone was incredible if you only looked closely enough.  Powell certainly tried to look closely at herself in Cleaving; the problem for reviewers seemed to be that she couldn’t look as closely enough to make herself look quite as incredible as readers wanted her to be after the sweet story she told in Julie and Julia. And maybe no readers really wanted to look even as close as Powell managed.  The patho-biographic memoir (to play off Joyce Carol Oates coinage) has been being decried since at least 1996 (see this essay by James Atlas)  and perhaps it is now actualy in decline.  At any rate, Powell’s blog hasn’t been updated since April 2010, so there’s no recent report on how she’s dealing with a particularly unfortunate case of “second book syndrome.”  SBS can be hard on any author; it seems to be an especially real problem for food writers.  Even Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow-up to Eat, Pray, Love (which actually was only partially a food memoir) was less successful.

Speaking of “second book syndrome, here’s a link to an interesting blog post about a different sort of second book syndrome:  how reading the second book by an author’s whose first book you loved can be a, well, why not read the post…

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