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Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex: a review

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Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex: a review

Old 07-28-04, 03:22 PM
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Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex: a review

I just finished reading this one, which is long after it was published. It took him long enough to write, so I figure it's alright to take awhile to get around to reading.

I can give nothing but praise for Middlesex, the fascinating story of a hermaphrodite named Callie Stephanides. The author, Jeffrey Eugenides is a resident of Detroit who is a talented and crafty writer if for no other reason than he makes Detroit seem like an alluring city. The setting for The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex are both primarily in Detroit. After reading this book I am no longer upset that it took Eugenides almost ten years to write his second novel.

The narrator for the book is a male who is telling his story of coming to terms with being raised a girl despite always being a boy. Fascinating issues of gender and biology are explored as Cal discusses the beginning of a incestuous relationship in Greece, to his parents life in Detroit, moving to the suburbs, his own falling in love with a female classmate, psychological exploitation in NYC, and the exploratory escape found in San Francisco. All of it ending with the satisfying coming to terms with both himself and his family coming to terms with who he has become.

Eugenides is able to weave a story together that also shows the beautiful struggle of an immigrant family trying to follow the American dream. A dream that can never be completely achieved, despite any monetary success, because of the abnormality in the 5-alpha gene that was not unheard of in the village the Stephanides emigrated from. Leaving the family a probable tragedy. Not one for predictable endings, Eugenides shows that the American dream has shifted as attitudes have changed. While Cal might not fit in with all of America he is able to find his niche.

The scope of the book is complimented by Eugenides love of irony, coincidences, and careful repetition. An example would be the burning of Mount Olympus that was endured by Desdemona and her husband was later relived by her son when the riots of Detroit turned the streets of Detroit into a war zone just as the Turks did a generation earlier.

Eugenides is able to weave together an important and enjoyable tale. There is both pathos and humor that come from the story. An unforgettable book that is narrated by an unforgettable character.
Old 07-28-04, 08:15 PM
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I really enjoyed The Virgen Suicides. I've been meaning to pick this up every since it came out in paperback, but I still haven't gotten around to it. Maybe this post will expediate my purchase.
Old 07-29-04, 04:26 AM
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Thanks for the review, Alyoshka!

I also loved The Virgin Suicides, but have been hesitant to pick up Middlesex. I may try to squeeze it in before fall semester.
Old 10-29-09, 04:48 PM
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Re: Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex: a review

I finished reading Middlesex yesterday, and boy how I enjoyed it.

Despite it's length, the writing style is very engaing and readable. It has taken me a lot longer to read books only half the length.

It occured to me halfway through, that what the books shares in common with The Virgin Suicides is the omnipresent narrator, describing events and thoughts they couldn't have been there to witness.

One of the more enjoyable books I've read in a long time. Very entertaining, and one shouldn't be intimidated by the length.
Old 10-29-09, 07:31 PM
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Re: Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex: a review

Originally Posted by Crocker Jarmen
I finished reading Middlesex yesterday, and boy how I enjoyed it.

Despite it's length, the writing style is very engaing and readable. It has taken me a lot longer to read books only half the length.

It occured to me halfway through, that what the books shares in common with The Virgin Suicides is the omnipresent narrator, describing events and thoughts they couldn't have been there to witness.

One of the more enjoyable books I've read in a long time. Very entertaining, and one shouldn't be intimidated by the length.
I read the book two years ago and it still sticks out in my mind as one of my favorite novels. Easily in my top ten.
Old 10-30-09, 11:05 AM
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Re: Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex: a review

I loved it too. One of the best books of the past decade.

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