Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite Reads: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

In My Favorite Reads each week I feature one of my favorite reads from the past. October is National Reading Group Month so I am featuring books I red for my book club. These would all make for excellent discussions. This week is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Summary (from GoodReads):
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 classmate 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.

Why I chose this book:
Why oh why was Callie's brother named Chapter Eleven? It's going to bug the Cr*p out of me until I figure it out! Aside from that, this was an amazingly creative, bizarre, but well-written and lovingly-told story. I did find it a tad slow-going at first, and I was very reluctant to read it as I'd thought from what I'd heard leading up to it that it would be pretentious. However, I found that wasn't the case at all. What a fascinating story with some of the most well-drawn characters I've read about in years.


Alyce said...

I have had this novel recommended to me on multiple occasions, but I had kind of a knee-jerk reaction/judgment that I didn't think I would like it. Now that I re-read the summary though I think it actually looks very interesting. You've definitely made me more curious about this book than I was before.

Carin Siegfried said...

What's funny is that rereading he description, I too find it intriguing - more so than I remember feeling while reading it! I's a worthwhile read, but greatly flawed I think. But you have to read it to really know what everyone's talking about and to be able to really decide what you feel about it. Did it deserve the Pulitzer? It was a great discussion as some people thought it was the bets book they'd read in years, and others of us thought it was seriously problematic.

B said...

I just bought this the other day. I've always wanted to read it and just haven't ever gotten to it. I'm looking forward to picking it up.