Saturday, July 18, 2009

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

'I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license records my first name simply as Cal.' So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Well this was certainly an interesting read. Deep with real lives and relationships. And actually, the hermaphroditism seemed very cursory to me and merely just another thread of the story being told. The one thing that bothered me the whole way thru is the brother's name. I don't get it: "Chapter Eleven". (I looked it up on Wikipedia and am not impressed with the reasoning, something to do with bankruptcy. Everyone else in the story, except The Obscure Object, have "real" names). The thing that was really disturbing about this book for me was that I couldn't stop myself constantly wondering if it was actually a true story, which I think is a plus for any fictional novel.

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