My reading experiences... and my ongoing struggle to separate fiction from reality.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides ('Kirkus' Style Review)
Author: Eugenides, Jeffrey
Review Date: FEBRUARY 01, 2010
Price (paperback): $13.95
Publication Date: 09/16/2003
Category: LITERARY FICTION
Jeffery Eugenides, critically acclaimed author of The Virgin Suicides, expertly weaves a modern story of epic proportions and creates a fascinatingly complex yet relatable character who transcends societal norms.
Cal, originally named Calliope by his parents, is an adult male who was once assumed to be a female at birth and raised as such by his Greek-American family. Cal spends the first half of the novel narrating the momentous story of his grandparents’ incestuous relationship and subsequent escape from war-torn Greece, as well as his parents’ early lives in the turbulent era of 1960’s Detroit. He then looks back on his former life as a young girl and the gender transition he made in his teens, which he believes is a direct result of a gene which existed within his grandparents and which, through a series of fateful events, was passed on to him. What ensues is a strange and psychologically complicated tale which Eugenides manages to successfully tie in with Greek history and myth. Cal is essentially a sexual outcast—he defies chemical, biological, sexual, and psychological norms. Cal’s gender confusion makes for a truly thought-provoking, stereotype-defying read, and his journey of self-discovery begs the reader to question the way that society conditions us to view gender classification. Perhaps the most significant achievement of this novel is the author’s ability to use a nearly genderless voice to express the same character in both male and female roles. Eugenides transcends the stereotypes of gender by enabling the reader to accept the narrator as both male and female.
Not intended for a narrow-minded audience, and not a light read by any means, this novel is provocative, intelligent, and humorous, featuring a narrator deserving of a place among the classic characters of literature. Highly recommended.
I am a full-time graduate student in IUPUI's Library and Information Science program. I work part-time as a nanny for an adorable one-year-old named Padraic. My hobbies include reading (hence my decision to take this class), taking walks, being pessimistic, and screaming at rock concerts. I live just south of Indianapolis with my roommate Lauren and my creepy dog Bailey.