Between the Covers

Perfection

A Memoir by Julie Metz

It is a brave thing to reveal your warts-and-all marriage for the world to read. Far easier to package it as fiction but author Julie Metz found the courage to write and publish the story of her philandering husband, with all its sordid surprises and betrayals, as a memoir.

Meet Henry, chef and cookbook writer, whose latest book project attempts to explore the subject of Umami – the Japanese idea of perfection.

When he collapses from a brain aneurism on the hard kitchen floor, Metz weeps for her loss and that of daughter, Liza. It is a few months before she discovers Henry’s legacy – a rather long and complicated list of women he had bedded.

Metz probes into each of these affairs in an attempt to understand her errant husband and in the hope that their marriage was not a complete sham.

“I wanted to understand what had gone on in these women’s minds, how they had rationalised their own choices. I felt that these women owed me an explanation for their damaging behavior,” Metz writes on her website.

We put up with a lot to be loved. This love story is written with honesty. It is a purging for the writer – word therapy in action. Unfortunately there is too much lingering on irrelevant subjects and far too much navel gazing.

Yet it is still a captivating read, mainly because of the voyeuristic nature of viewing someone else’s intimate life. Forbidden but compelling reading.

Metz hails from New York where she works as a graphic designer and writer. She describes herself as the world’s biggest sceptic.

Her description of Henry’s death uses sparse writing and the lack of sentimentality gives it gravitas.

“It happened like this: Henry’s footsteps on the old wooden floorboards. The toilet flushing. More footsteps, perhaps on the stairs. Silence. Then the thud.”

It is hard for Metz. Angry at her husband’s infidelity but with nowhere to direct that emotion, she seeks answers in his list of mistresses. Her subsequent dates sourced via the internet are revealing too. I wonder what the men she wrote about think of the often unflattering descriptions by Metz.

Simply looking for love, and a father for Liza, Metz sometimes comes across as manipulative, but then losing your husband at the age of 44 and having to start over again is tough. Writing a book about it would have been even tougher.

Books reviewed are available at the Book Warehouse in Keen Street, Lismore, and at Lismore Shopping Square.


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