Yesterday, when I wrote my review of Julie & Julia, I did so in a vacuum. I hadn't read any reviews of the book, or any interviews with the author at all. And that was a good thing.
It's a little glitch of mine - I could never read my friends' high school English papers, then write mine. I'd only be able to think of their topics, never my own ideas. And so, a lifetime of writing underresearched opinion papers began. (Which is not to say I don't love research. It's what I do. I just can't do research that might influence my opinions before I have them fully established.)
Anyway. Yesterday. I wrote about the book, saying that I really liked it, and felt a connection to the author, even though she is clearly nothing like me. The two days before that, I called her jaded and bitter.
Well, apparently I was not alone. This morning, curious about what other bloggers thought of the book and the woman, I did a little bit of research (emphasis on little) and I found this preview discussion sparked by Barrett of Too Many Chefs. I am glad, glad, glad I didn't read this a few days ago - it would have soured me nearly completely on Julie Powell and I never would've made it through the book.
I completely understand Barrett's overall position, and that of his commenters: Julie Powell comes across as self-important, self-indulgent, and like a jaded snob. There's no reason for her to slam other food bloggers - though she obviously doesn't really consider herself one of them, which is ridiculous. Her writing is about food. It might also be about life, but isn't food about life? I get the distinct impression that she thinks she's somehow "bigger" than food.
But while I agree, overall, with the impressions of everyone at Too Many Chefs, and I doubt I'd want to have drinks with Julie Powell, I also stand by what I said about the book yesterday: it's entertaining and it is well-written (maybe thanks to an editor, but whatever). On top of that, I don't think success has maybe changed her as much as some of the TMC commenters suggest. Granted, I wasn't reading her back when she started her blog, but after reading the book my impression of her was one of a pseudo-intellectual elitist - who had been that way since she was much younger.
But, she still made me laugh. I might not want to be her best friend, but I liked watching her from afar in the few days it took me to read her book. Which is really enough for me.