If you enjoyed this book, you’re going to love the map.
From page 1 until I ran headlong into the back cover, this was one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a long time. It certainly wasn’t the…
storyline which, for me, was all too predictable. But the way Eugenides writes it more than makes up for that. The most masterful thing about this writing is the perfect balance between Cal/liope the main character and the rest of the cast.
The story is told through the eyes of Cal, who is obviously therefore retelling a fascinating family history second or third hand. This works so very very well because Eugenides takes utmost care to flesh out Cal in intricate 3-D detail while only building up other characters as much as Cal himself would have been able to. Desdemona, the matriarchal grandmother with whom the story opens and, quite literally, finds its genesis, always seems a sketchy figure from the word go. Lefty, her husband, the same. Other characters, nearer the plot (her brother, the Object, etc) are much more vividly portrayed because Eugenides takes care to maintain Cal’s perspective at all times.
Nowhere is this more subtely and tellingly done than with his use of first and third person perspective. Reading along in the first person, you’d suddenly find yourself way out in third person before, at some significant juncture, being invited back into first. This was so neatly done that I was about halfway through the book before I realised this trick was being played on me. From them on, I read much more observantly. On reflection, this is an absolutely perfect motif to express the idenity crisis that plagues Cal for much of the book.
Another great touch is Eugenides’ ability to cater for the visual ones among us reeling off sequences as if we’re watching them on film, in time lapse or as background images to commentary. This style is most definitely a product of our video generation.
I’m not sure the author actually makes much of an authoritative statement about sexuality for all the space given over to describing it. But certainly the quote by one character that “sex is biological. Gender is cultural” is open to debate. If this book has a weakness it’s the lack of resolution of this very issue. It all seems very open-minded and that may well be the intention, but it seems slightly naive to claim that as long as we feel happy with our own sexuality that the road before us becomes nice and smooth.
In actual fact, if that quote is indeed true from the author’s perspective, it’s hard to see why Cal would need to make the changes he does. Raised female, Cal should have felt in his element being so. But he wasn’t, contrary to his culture. If sex is biologically determined, then, equally, we have an issue: it’s hard to see how a species can survive according to evolutionary principles if biology predisposes homosexuality.
So, for me, the book raised huge moral issues which it never dealt with effectively and that was somewhat frustrating. Then again, I don’t read fiction to discover answers to questions about how to live my life. I go elsewhere for that and foray into fiction to find out how the other half live. Middlesex was, for me, extremely instructive in that regard.
I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.
[men] cover you like a sarcophagus lid. And call it love.
In the end it wasn’t up to me. The big things never are. Birth, I mean, and death. And love. And what love bequeaths to us before we’re born.
The black box [on pictures of medical cases]; a fig leaf in reverse, concealing identity while leaving shame exposed.
Whoever named it morning sickness was a man.
real life doesn’t live up to writing about it
Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words.
Re churches: They let you in for free. Then you’ve got to pay for the rest of your life.
Re USA: when you come right down to it, this whole country’s stolen.
The funeral did what funerals are supposed to do: it gave us no time to dwell on our feelings.
bowdlerise | bursitis | deracinate | dragees | hubris | karyotype | kegger | kiva | kundalini | postprandial | linden | | marcel | meiosis | nictitate | odalisque | palimpsest | paramecium | sybylline
CULTURE ~ NEW!
GreeceÂ» Tiresias | rebetika | tsoureki | spanikopita | pastitsio | galactoboureko | Melina Mercouri | Priapus
LatinoÂ» guayabera | mariachi
U.S.A.Â» muumuu | nonpareil | a Keane painting | a Sendak creature | scrapple | an Eames chair | Trader Vic’s | Pepto-Bismol | Chapter 11
GEOGRAPHY ~ NEW!
Koza Han: silk bazaar in Bursa, Turkey
Mt Olympus: there are two, one in present day Greece and traditional home of the gods, and one which is now referred to by its Turkish title of Mt. Uludag just SE of Bursa.
If you’ve got Google Earth installed on your pc, you can actually see the locations mentioned in this book by downloading Arukiyomi’s Google Earth – Middlesex file.
This is a bit spoily so click if you want to read…show
terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb