Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex was recommended to me by a young student who reads constantly, and it was only because it had won the Pulitzer Prize that I considered tackling it. These kinds of "literary" novels are either boring as hell or transcendent. Luckily, this one was the latter. Eugenides manages to convey the complex inner thought processes of Callie, who was born with amorphous genitals and is raised as a girl until puberty, when the object of his affection is a young, female classmate. Their strange romance is so well written that it reminded me of what it was like in my early to late teens to be subject to the tortures of puberty. The discovering what your body can do, vs. what it wants to do. Discovering who you are attracted to, and whether or not you can trust your instincts. This mission of self-discovery was wonderful, accurate, and the character does exactly the right thing when faced with surgical sexual reassignment. The rest of the book is less interesting, although the peek show in San Fran was hilarious. I didn't get much out of the history of Callie's grand parents and parents, although I learned a helluvalot about the Greek American mindset. Having been to Greece and knowing how they reject modernism, I have great sympathy and interest in the modern Greek psyche.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who has ever known someone that was discovering their sexuality. I have a personal friend who was born a hermaphrodite, so I definitely understand the torture & difficult decisions that are forced on these people. Most people end up choosing love over friendships. That's what Callie does in this wonderful book that certainly deserved the awards that it got.
I have to credit Eugenides with tackling a difficult subject; but the second half fell flat for me once the grandmother left the story, as if not only was she the strong foundation of the family, but of the book as well. However, it's obvious Eugenides is a skillful writer and he describes and dissects his characters with a deft pen. I would recommend it for that alone, if nothing else. There were moments of great pathos and of great humor, but the story for me ended halfway through the book.
Subject and Sentences are rich!
I love stumbling upon modern authors who have the syntactic smarts to ruffle the feathers of your regular reader.
Bought as a recommendation, I knew that at least the subject matter would be interesting, but I was not expecting to be rewarded with such a rich level of language. Freely-floating modifiers galore snare phrase after phrase of extra detail that never ceases to reward.
A healthily empurpled text I would recommend to anyone!
I can understand why some would find this book rather boring, but I absolutely loved it. The author is fantastic; I was marveling over his poetic writing for the entire book. One of the best I've ever read.
Amazing. I couldn't put it down.
This book kept me hooked. The story is beautifully written. I practically fell in love with the narrator, and wanted to know everything about her/him.
A dazzling triumph from the bestselling author of The Virgin Suicides--the astonishing tale of a gene that passes down through three generations of a Greek-American family and flowers in the body of a teenage girl.
In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry blond clasmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them--along with Callie's failure to develop--leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.
The explanation for this shocking state of affairs takes us out of suburbia- back before the Detroit race riots of 1967, before the rise of the Motor City and Prohibition, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna and Callie's grandparents fled for their lives. Back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and one rare genetic mutation, set in motion the metamorphosis that will turn Callie into a being both mythical and perfectly real: a hermaphrodite.
Spanning eight decades--and one unusually awkward adolescence- Jeffrey Eugenides's long-awaited second novel is a grand, utterly original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire. It marks the fulfillment of a huge talent, named one of America's best young novelists by both Granta and The New Yorker.