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Like most of us who’ve, for nearly twenty years, lived out and in of the world of narrative meals writing and running a blog, I used to be shocked by the demise of Julie Powell on October twenty sixth. My DMs and textual content messages got here roaring in: was she in poor health? Do you know her? What occurred? I’ve lengthy ceased being a member of the inside circle meals bloggerati, so I’m scripting this for her.

All I can say with any readability is that this: in preparation for the Ladies’s March on Washington in March 2017, Julie knitted me a pink pussy hat in mere days, since I’m a hazard to myself with knitting needles. And the final trade we had was in on July 3, 2019, when she was leaving for rehab; she posted about it publicly, on social media, so I’m snug mentioning that right here.

Julie and I first began speaking in 2008, when my beloved cousin Harris Wulfson took his personal life; Julie was a 12 months behind Harris at Amherst School, and remembered him to me as an otherworldly musician, at all times with an instrument in his hand. That is what broke the ice of dialog for us: a commonality, a bizarre kind of security born of unthinkable loss. We didn’t speak a lot about Julie & Julia (the weblog) at first, however did commute lots about her ebook primarily based on the weblog, later tailored for a film that she was vastly enthusiastic about, however in the end lower than thrilled by. I don’t but know if this can be a factor— if it’s par for the course that authors of massive, tailored books change into disgruntled once they’re not concerned as script guide or screenwriters— however I suppose that it’s key to have the ability to let go of what you’ll be able to’t management, which is a really onerous factor for a inventive to do. For any of us to do. I bear in mind telling her that it was in one of the best inventive palms attainable, and I nonetheless consider it was.

Amy Adams’ Julie wasn’t very similar to the precise Julie, and I truthfully have no idea what it’s like to take a seat in a darkened room and stare up at a display adaptation of your precise self; I believe that it’s not straightforward. Julie, I bought the sense, needed to have extra involvement with the real-life variations of the individuals she’d written about on the weblog, and within the ebook: the Judith Jones character within the film, who is meant to return to Julie and Eric’s condo for an elaborate dinner with a Christian Science Monitor reporter, cancels on the final minute due to a rainstorm. The true-life Jones, nonetheless working as an editor, was additionally a no-show when the Cordon Bleu introduced Julie with an honorary diploma; it stung, Julie informed me, however it was additionally awarded to her in France, and Jones was already older at that time. Julia herself, who, on the time of the weblog in 2002 was 89 years previous, and shielded by a small military of protectors, was broadly presupposed to have disdained the weblog and Julie’s challenge, and this upset Julie mightily. (Having had my very own firsthand expertise with the identical small military of protectors, in addition to [the brilliant] Jones, and in addition figuring out many [many, many] younger individuals who had been impressed by Julia, and to whom she was extraordinarily supportive when the small military was not current, I query Julia’s derision as a result of, merely, it doesn’t sound like her to any of us authors who had been remotely related to her. She is broadly recognized to have appreciated and supported the work of youthful individuals who had been immediately impressed by her. Her protectors, nonetheless, are one other story.)

I distinctly bear in mind Julie’s disappointment over the truth that this factor she had created had change into one thing else; that the explanation for creating it— out of profound respect and a necessity for therapeutic— had been construed as one thing someway lower than acceptable, as if the creator had nefarious intentions. Nothing may very well be much less correct, and I do know that Julie was upset that the very fact of her challenge was supposedly discovered distasteful by the very particular person she idolized, and whose meals was serving to her put one foot in entrance of the opposite as she labored in the course of the day on the nice gaping gap left within the hearts of New Yorkers after 9/11.

Julie’s second ebook, Cleaving, took a distinct tone and a flip, and was learn another way. It felt offended; Julie’s narrative voice had modified, and plenty of readers needed the opposite Julie again. This occurs on the earth of writing books: it’s known as second book-itis. Cleaving referred to the work that she was doing with a butcher in upstate New York, but in addition to the affairs that each she and her husband had. I consider Cleaving, too, as a proper separation— a splitting— from the challenge and its persona that had thrust her into the limelight, and the meals individuals she beloved on the web page and in her coronary heart, however who, in actual life, didn’t fairly love her again. And that’s extremely, paradoxically heartbreaking. Now that she is gone, I count on that her work will expertise a resurgence in reputation— that is the factor that occurs. When it does occur, which it should, I’ll want that she might see it. As a result of truthfully: Julie was a effective, effective author, and an excellent particular person.

There are a number of I needs right here: I want I’d reached out extra. I want I’d gotten into the automobile and had lunch along with her upstate. I want I’d checked on her when she bought house from rehab. I want I’d requested what she was engaged on now. I simply want I’d known as and stated the three phrases that all of us want to listen to: How are you.


This put up was initially revealed on Elissa Altman’s weblog Poor Man’s Feast, The Beard Award-winning journal in regards to the intersection of meals, spirit, and the households that drive you loopy. Learn extra on her Substack, or sustain along with her archives right here.

Header picture by Alone Tabito on Unsplash.



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