Despite Snark from Critics, Julia's Books are Suddenly Gotta-Haves
When Chelsea Handler told a panel of comedians on Chelsea Lately that ABC News was reporting that Julia Child's memoir My Life in France and some of her other books are "flying off the shelves because of the new movie Julie & Julia," the invective flew thick and fast. "It's a movie about a lady who cooks things from a cookbook and then blogs about it," said Guy Branum, identified in supered type as "comedian/staff homosexual". "What's next, a movie about a guy who live-tweets a half-hour of television?"
Rakka/Flickr You're not alone.
Branum was also incensed about a certain anti-climactic fowl. "The whole thing is a build-up to this duck that she bones and then fills with paté and then covers with pastry dough and then they never cut into it and no one eats it," he said. "It is like porn with no money shot."
"No dude wants to go see this movie," comedienne Arden Myrin said. "I had, like, an easier time getting a date to see The Lake House."
Despite the Julie & Julia backlash as glimpsed on Handler's show and online, the movie has apparently inspired many to trot over to their local bookstores and dive into Julia's 1961 magnum opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which became Vol. 1 when Vol. 2 came out in 1971). The New York Times reports that, almost 48 years after its initial publication, Mastering is finally topping the best-seller list. "The book, given a huge lift from the recently released movie Julie & Julia, sold 22,000 copies in the most recent week tracked...more copies than were sold in any full year since the book's appearance." It's poised to make its debut as number one on The New York Times Book Review best-seller lists of August 30 in the advice and how-to category. And it's currently number two in Books at Amazon.
Local booksellers have experienced the gold rush first hand. "I've sold about 10 copies of Mastering the Art, and also many more related books," Omnivore Books owner Celia Sack revealed via e-mail, "like My Life in France, Julie & Julia, and earlier editions of The French Chef (her cooking shows collected in a book), Julia Child & Co., etc. I spoke with the owner of the cookbook store Rabelais Books in Maine, and he has had the same experience. We are so excited to be selling out of Mastering the Art because young people are excited not just about eating (see: S.F. Street Food Festival), but actually COOKING."
Kim, a buyer at Moe's Books in Berkeley, said "All of them, Mastering, Julia's Kitchen Wisdom, all her books are just flying off the shelves, it's like a renaissance. We usually have a bunch of copies, new and used, and we have none. We have one new copy of Vol. 2. All the distributors are out. I'm looking online at Ingram, the distributors, and they're out. So Knopf has to be reprinting."
At Green Apple Books, a sales associate told us the store was sold out of Mastering, except for a signed copy priced at $500. Store co-owner Pete Mulvihill said, "We sort of didn't believe it at first, that that many people would buy it. We sold all the used copies, we've sold five new and it would have been 50. We definitely reordered -- we have 12 on the way, three of which are already on hold. Julia's Kitchen Wisdom sat on the shelf unsold, and we've sold three since the movie. The Julie/Julia Project sold well even before the movie came out, as did My Life in France. It's definitely a phenomenon, more than we thought it would be."