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"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 Pointe, 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.
Middlesex is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
About the Author
Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published by Farrar Straus & Giroux to great acclaim in 1993, and he has received numerous awards for his work. In 2003, Jeffrey Eugenides received The Pulitzer Prize for his novel Middlesex (Picador, 2003). Middlesex, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, France's Prix Medicis, has sold over 1 million copies.
Date of Birth:March 8, 1960
Place of Birth:Detroit, Michigan
Education:B.A. in English, Brown University, 1983; M.A. in creative writing/English, Stanford University, 1986
Read an Excerpt
THE SILVER SPOON
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. Specialized readers may have come across me in Dr. Peter Luce's study, "Gender Identity in 5-Alpha-Reductase Pseudohermaphrodites," published in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology in 1975. Or maybe you've seen my photograph in chapter sixteen of the now sadly outdated Genetics and Heredity. That's me on page 578, standing naked beside a height chart with a black box covering my eyes.
My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license (from the Federal Republic of Germany) records my first name simply as Cal. I'm a former field hockey goalie, longstanding member of the Save-the-Manatee Foundation, rare attendant at the Greek Orthodox liturgy, and, for most of my adult life, an employee of the U.S. State Department. Like Tiresias, I was first one thing and then the other. I've been ridiculed by classmates, guinea-pigged by doctors, palpated by specialists, and researched by the March of Dimes. A redheaded girl from Grosse Pointe fell in love with me, not knowing what I was. (Her brother liked me, too.) An army tank led me into urban battle once; a swimming pool turned me into myth; I've left my body in order to occupy others — and all this happened before I turned sixteen.
But now, at the age of forty-one, I feel another birth coming on. After, decades of neglect, I find myself thinking about departed great-aunts and -uncles, long-lost grandfathers, unknown fifth cousins, or, in the case ofan inbred family like mine, all those things in one. And so before it's too late I want to get it down for good: this roller-coaster ride of a single gene through time. Sing now, O Muse, of the recessive mutation on my fifth chromosome! Sing how it bloomed two and a half centuries ago on the slopes of Mount Olympus, while the goats bleated and the olives dropped. Sing how it passed down through nine generations, gathering invisibly within the polluted pool of the Stephanides family. And sing how Providence, in the guise of a massacre, sent the gene flying again; how it blew like a seed across the sea to America, where it drifted through our industrial rains until it fell to earth in the fertile soil of my mother's own mid-western womb.
Sorry if I get a little Homeric at times. That's genetic, too.
Three months before I was born, in the aftermath of one of our elaborate Sunday dinners, my grandmother Desdemona Stephanides ordered my brother to get her silkworm box. Chapter Eleven had been heading toward the kitchen for a second helping of rice pudding when she blocked his way. At fifty-seven, with her short, squat figure and intimidating hairnet, my grandmother was perfectly designed for blocking people's paths. Behind her in the kitchen, the day's large female contingent had congregated, laughing and whispering. Intrigued, Chapter Eleven leaned sideways to see what was going on, but Desdemona reached out and firmly pinched his cheek. Having regained his attention, she sketched a rectangle in the air and pointed at the ceiling. Then, through her ill-fitting dentures, she said, "Go for yia yia, dolly mou."
Chapter Eleven knew what to do. He ran across the hall into the living room. On all fours he scrambled up the formal staircase to the second floor. He raced past the bedrooms along the upstairs corridor. At the far end was a nearly invisible door, wallpapered over like the entrance to a secret passageway. Chapter Eleven located the tiny doorknob level with his head and, using all his strength, pulled it open. Another set of stairs lay behind it. For a long moment my brother stared hesitantly into the darkness above, before climbing, very slowly now, up to the attic where my grandparents lived.
In sneakers he passed beneath the twelve damply newspapered birdcages suspended from the rafters. With a brave face he immersed himself in the sour odor of the parakeets, and in my grandparents' own particular aroma, a mixture of mothballs and hashish. He negotiated his way past my grandfather's book-piled desk and his collection of rebetika records. Finally, bumping into the leather ottoman and the circular coffee table made of brass, he found my grandparents' bed and, under it, the silkworm box.
Carved from olivewood, a little bigger than a shoe box, it had a tin lid perforated by tiny airholes and inset with the icon of an unrecognizable saint. The saint's face had been rubbed off, but the fingers of his right hand were raised to bless a short, purple, terrifically self-confident-looking mulberry tree. After gazing awhile at this vivid botanical presence, Chapter Eleven pulled the box from under the bed and opened it. Inside were the two wedding crowns made from rope and, coiled like snakes, the two long braids of hair, each tied with a crumbling black ribbon. He poked one of the braids with his index finger. Just then a parakeet squawked, making my brother jump, and he closed the box, tucked it under his arm, and carried it downstairs to Desdemona.
She was still waiting in the doorway. Taking the silkworm box out of his hands, she turned back into the kitchen. At this point Chapter Eleven was granted a view of the room, where all the women now fell silent. They moved aside to let Desdemona pass and there, in the middle of the linoleum, was my mother. Tessie Stephanides was leaning back in a kitchen chair, pinned beneath the immense, drum-tight globe of her pregnant belly. She had a happy, helpless expression on her face, which was flushed and hot. Desdemona set the silkworm box on the kitchen table and, opened the lid. She reached under the wedding crowns and the hair braids to come up with something Chapter Eleven hadn't seen: a silver spoon. She tied a piece of string to the spoon's handle. Then, stooping forward, she dangled the spoon over my mother's swollen belly. And, by extension, over me.
Up until now Desdemona had had a perfect record: twenty-three correct guesses. Shed known that Tessie was going to be Tessie. She'd predicted the sex of my brother and of all the babies of her friends at church. The only children whose genders she hadn't divined were her own, because it was bad luck for a mother to plumb the mysteries of her own womb. Fearlessly, however, she plumbed my mother's. After some initial hesitation, the spoon swung north to south, which meant that I was going to be a boy.
Splay-legged in the chair, my mother tried to smile. She didn't want a boy. She had one already. In fact, she was so certain I was going to be a girl that she'd picked out only one name for me: Calliope. But when my grandmother shouted in Greek, "A boy!" the cry went around the room, and out into the hall, and across the hall into the living room where the men were arguing politics. And my mother, hearing it repeated so many times, began to believe it might be true.
As soon as the cry reached my father, however, he marched into the kitchen to tell his mother that, this time at least, her spoon was wrong. "And how you know so much?" Desdemona asked him. To which he replied what many Americans of his generation would have:
"It's science, Ma."
Ever since they had decided to have another child — the diner was doing well and Chapter Eleven was long out of diapers — Milton and Tessie had been in agreement that they wanted a daughter. Chapter Eleven had just turned five years old. He'd recently found a dead bird in the yard, bringing it into the house to show his mother. He liked shooting things, hammering things, smashing things, and wrestling with his father. In such a masculine household, Tessie had begun to feel like the odd woman out and saw herself in ten years' time imprisoned in a world of hubcaps and hernias. My mother pictured a daughter as a counterinsurgent: a fellow lover of lapdogs, a seconder of proposals to attend the Ice Capades. In the spring of 1959, when discussions of my fertilization got under way, my mother couldn't foresee that women would soon be burning their brassieres by the thousand. Hers were padded, stiff, fire-retardant. As much as Tessie loved her son, she knew there were certain things she'd be able to share only with a daughter.
On his morning drive to work, my father had been seeing visions of an irresistibly sweet, dark-eyed little girl. She sat on the seat beside him — mostly during stoplights — directing questions at his patient, all-knowing ear. "What do you call that thing, Daddy?" 'That? That's the Cadillac seal." "What's the Cadillac seal?" "Well, a long time ago, there was a French explorer named Cadillac, and he was the one who discovered Detroit. And that seal was his family seal, from France." "What's France?" "France is a country in Europe." "What's Europe?" "It's a continent, which is like a great big piece of land, way, way bigger than a country. But Cadillacs don't come from Europe anymore, kukla. They come from right here in the good old U.S.A." The light turned green and he drove on. But my prototype lingered. She was there at the next light and the next. So pleasant was her company that my father, a man loaded with initiative, decided to see what he could do to turn his vision into reality.
Thus: for some time now, in the living room where the men discussed politics, they had also been discussing the velocity of sperm. Peter Tatakis, "Uncle Pete" as we called him, was a leading member of the debating society that formed every week on our black love seats. A lifelong bachelor, he had no family in America and so had become attached to ours. Every Sunday he arrived in his wine-dark Buick, a tall, prune-faced, sad-seeming man with an incongruously vital head of wavy hair. He was not interested in children. A proponent of the Great Books series — which he had read twice — Uncle Pete was engaged with serious thought and Italian opera. He had a passion, in history, for Edward Gibbon, and, in literature, for the journals of Madame de Staël. He liked to quote that witty lady's opinion on the German language, which held that German wasn't good for conversation because you had to wait to the end of the sentence for the verb, and so couldn't interrupt. Uncle Pete had wanted to become a doctor, but the "catastrophe" had ended that dream. In the United States, he'd put himself through two years of chiropractic school, and now ran a small office in Birmingham with a human skeleton he was still paying for in installments. In those days, chiropractors had a somewhat dubious reputation. People didn't come to Uncle Pete to free up their kundalini. He cracked necks, straightened spines, and made custom arch supports out of foam rubber. Still, he was the closest thing to a doctor we had in the house on those Sunday afternoons. As a young man he'd had half his stomach surgically removed, and now after dinner always drank a Pepsi-Cola to help digest his meal. The soft drink had been named for the digestive enzyme pepsin, he sagely told us, and so was suited to the task.
Copyright © 2002 Jeffrey Eugenides
Table of Contents
|The Silver Spoon||13|
|An Immodest Proposal||80|
|The Silk Road||121|
|Henry Ford's English-Language Melting Pot||149|
|Marriage on Ice||235|
|News of the World||335|
|Ex Ovo Omnia||362|
|The Mediterranean Diet||494|
|The Obscure Object||582|
|Tiresias in Love||620|
|Flesh and Blood||655|
|The Gun on the Wall||684|
|The Oracular Vulva||723|
|Looking Myself Up in Webster's||764|
|Go West, Young Man||792|
|Gender Dysphoria in San Francisco||826|
|The Last Stop||922|
Reading Group Guide
About this Guide
The following author biography and list of questions about Middlesex are intended as resources to aid individual readers and book groups who would like to learn more about the author and this book. We hope that this guide will provide you a starting place for discussion, and suggest a variety of perspectives from which you might approach Middlesex.
1. Describing his own conception, Cal writes: "The timing of the thing had to be just so in order for me to become the person I am. Delay the act by an hour and you change the gene selection." (p. 11) Is Cal's condition a result of chance or fate? Which of these forces governs the world as Cal sees it?
2. Middlesex begins just before Cal's birth in 1960, then moves backward in time to 1922. Cal is born at the beginning of Book Three, about halfway through the novel. Why did the author choose to structure the story this way? How does this movement backward and forward in time reflect the larger themes of the work?
3. When Tessie and Milton decide to try to influence the sex of their baby, Desdemona disapproves. "God decides what baby is," she says. "Not you." (p.13) What happens when characters in the novel challenge fate?
4. "To be honest, the amusement grounds should be closed at this hour, but, for my own purposes, tonight Electric Park is open all night, and the fog suddenly lifts, all so that my grandfather can look out the window and see a roller coaster streaking down the track. A moment of cheap symbolism only, and then I have to bow to the strict rules of realism, which is to say: they can't see a thing." (pp. 110-11) Occasionally, Cal interrupts his own narrative, calling attention to himself and the artifice inherent in his story. What purpose do these interruptions serve? Is Cal a reliable narrator?
5. "I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever," Cal writes (p. 217). How does Cal narrate the events that take place before his birth? Does his perspective as a narrator change when he is recounting events that take place after he is born?
6. "All I know is this: despite my androgenized brain, there's an innate feminine circularity in the story I have to tell." (p.20) What does Cal mean by this? Is his manner of telling his story connected to the question of his gender? How?
7. How are Cal's early sexual experiences similar to those of an adolescent? How are they different? Are the differences more significant than the similarities?
8. Why does Cal decide to live as a man rather than as a woman?
9. How does Cal's experience reflect on the "nature vs. nurture" debate about gender identity?
10. Who is Johnny Zizmo? How does he influence the course of events in the novel?
11. What is Dr. Luce's role in the novel? Would you describe him as a villain?
12. Calliope is the name the classical Greek muse of eloquence and epic poetry. What elements of Greek mythology figure in Cal's story? Is this novel meant to be a new myth?
13. How is Cal's experience living within two genders similar to the immigrant experience of living within two cultures? How is it different?
14. Middlesex is set against the backdrop of several historical events: the war between Greece and Turkey, the rise of the Nation of Islam, World War II, and the Detroit riots. How does history shape the lives of the characters in the novel?
15. What does America represent for Desdemona? For Milton? For Cal? To what extent do you think these characters' different visions of America correspond to their status as first-, second-, and third-generation Greek Americans?
16. What role does race play in the novel? How do the Detroit riots of 1967 affect the Stephanides family and Cal, specifically?
17. Describe Middlesex. Does the house have a symbolic function in the novel?
18. "Everything about Middlesex spoke of forgetting and everything about Desdemona made plain the inescapability of remembering," Cal writes (p.273). How and when do Desdemona's Old World values conflict with the ethos of America, and, specifically, of Middlesex?
19. The final sentence of the novel reads: "I lost track after a while, happy to be home, weeping for my father, and thinking about what was next." (p. 529) What is next for Cal? Does the author give us reason to believe that Cal's relationship with Julie will be successful?
20. "Watching from the cab, Milton came face-to-face with the essence of tragedy, which is something determined before you're born, something you can't escape or do anything about, no matter how hard you try." (p. 426) According to this definition, is Cal's story a tragedy?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very interesting read. On the surface, a story about a Greek-American hermaphrodite. Calliope/Cal narrates this tale of birth and rebirth.
Cal describes the family history and traces the journey of a rare, recessive gene over about 80 years. Cal's grandparents flee from their burning home in a small village in Turkey. Desdemona and Lefty, brother and sister, reinvent themselves during their journey to America and get married. When their son marries his cousin, two recessive genes collide. The result? Calliope, raised as a girl until an emergency room doctor notices something different about her. A visit to a famous specialist in New York sets Calliope on a completely new path and she is reborn as Cal.
Excellent character development and the intricate details of Cal's convoluted family history will keep readers turning pages. The normal adolescent angst and sexual exploration take on a whole new dimension, yet these issues are handled with grace, sensitivity, and, often, humor.
I did not expect to like this book, as it was on my "have to read" list, rather than the "want to read" list. Nevertheless, Cal's story grabbed me from the very first lines. I found this to be an excellent read.
I loved this novel. I picked up this fat tome with some trepidation, hearing it was inspired by a memoir discovered and promoted by Foucault by and about a hermaphrodite. I pictured some post-modern turgid avant-garde mess--like Delillo's Underworld, which had been on the same recommendation list. Instead I found what was promised in Underworld's blurbs was fulfilled in Middlesex--a Great American Novel--and a page-turner. Strangely, in the tale of a hermaphrodite I didn't find anything remotely freakish, but humanely universal, as if by having this protagonist of an ambiguous gender, Eugenides was able to embrace and bridge both (all?) genders. It's an ambitious work, taking in about 80 years from his Greek immigrant grandparents roots in Turkey, to his parents and childhood in Detroit, to his coming of age on the road from New York City to San Francisco and his current life at a diplomatic posting in Germany. It takes in massacres in Turkey, Ellis Island, the development of America's car culture, Prohibition with it's Speakeasies and bootlegging, The Great Depression, World War II, The Nation of Islam, Detroit race riots and Black/White relations, the sexual revolution, politics, religion--there doesn't seem anything missed, and yet nothing that feels rambling or contrived or caricatured. The voice is miraculous. Technically it's a first person narrative, but it breaks the bonds of that point of view into an expansive omniscience in telling its story of three generations: Book One dealing with his grandparents in Turkey and their immigration to Detroit; Book Two with the story of his grandparents and parents in Detroit before his birth; Book Three with his childhood and early adolescence; Book Four with his crisis of identity when doctors discover he's not the girl he was raised to be. Even in those two parts of the book during his own lifetime, the narration has that expansive, feel of third person omniscience, but with the intimacy of the first person voice. Eugenides makes me feel for his characters. I ached for Callie--and Cal--both. I worried for him. I hoped for him. I was propelled through the 500 pages not wanting to skip one paragraph and ended it sorry it was over and wanting to read this again sometime--and Eugenides other novel.
“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.” Jeffrey Eugenides draws the reader into Middlesex in just the first sentence, and sets the scene for the purpose of the novel. Immediately, the reader is aware that the main character, later named Cal/Calliope, is a hermaphrodite. This is interesting because, BAM, within the book’s first few words the most shocking information about the story is already revealed. Eugenides could have decided to keep this information quiet and completely shock the reader in the middle of the novel when an emergency room technician discovers Cal’s embarrassing truth. However, due to other elements in the story, this strategy would not have been nearly as satisfying. Middlesex is a story of controversy, a story of history, a story of secrets, a story of coming of age. All of which are tied together beautifully. The novel takes a historical, twisting path from Greece in the 1920’s to 1960’s Detroit and 1970’s San Francisco. The story begins by telling Cal’s Grandparents’ history. This occupies a good part of the novel; and I feel if the reader was unaware of Cal’s abnormalities they would be questioning why she was going into such detail with their life story. This is why revealing Cal’s predicament in the first sentence works so well. It is ALWAYS in the back of the reader’s mind. The reader is compelled to find out more about Cal’s sexuality, and why she is like the way she is. Watching her deal with her unique problems makes the novel a one of a kind, modern coming of age tale. Cal also periodically interjects parts of her current life into the novel, which takes place in modern day Europe. Again, the fact that the reader knows of Cal’s troubles makes these parts understandable. However, these sections of the book did not click with me. At one point in the story Cal travels cross country (don’t worry, this does not give away much) and during this journey, I began to question her survival. But, because of the constant interjection of her current life, I knew that death was not an option. My imagination could not run wild. These pieces also called for a complete change of gears, which i was not fond of. One moment I was on a boat somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1920’s, and the next I was on a subway during the twentieth century. It would have added another element of surprise to the story if Cal’s current life was talked about at the end. Nevertheless, the story contains many layers. This is satisfying because just as the story has different elements, so does the idea of hermaphroditism. Eugenides constantly adds in historical events, such as the fire in Smyrna, Turkey. He also adds even greek culture by paralleling Cal’s story with that of Greek myths. He tells a classic story of immigrants coming to America, while also revealing a modern story about a hermaphrodite. This contrast is written so beautifully. Which is why the story of an uncomfortable topic actually works well. The novel is not just about a Hermaphrodite. Middlesex is about history, about Greek culture, about family secrets, about adventures, about acceptance.
One of the most stimulating and original books I have read. Truly, a modern-day epic. This is one of my favorite books of all time. Highly recommended.
Much better than most books on the Oprah Book Club Series so don't be discouraged if you are not a fan of the "list". This one is a don't miss.
While reading this book, I realized that what I really was doing was watching a movie. I could actually imagine the scenes playing out on the big screen through Eugenides¿ eccentric writing. The way he wrote Middlesex was appealing he described the setting, the characters, the moods in full detail using various, sometimes hilarious analogies along the way. I am also a big fan of narratives that overlook many generations in one hardcover it is a reminder to all of us that everyone 'our parents, grandparents, so on and so forth' have a story to tell. I enjoyed the plot for what it was worth, since there were times I was engaged enough that I could not put the book down. I was slightly disappointed about the way the book ended, however, because I felt like there was still an unexplained development from his confused youth at 14 to where he was now as a cautious adult male. Overall, maybe I just expected a tad bit more from a book that is inducted into Oprah's book club.
An absolute must in any library of any age, sex, or profession
I am reading oprahs book club books and I was looking for something else but ended up with this. It didn't really appeal to me but I absolutely loved this book. I couldn't put it down. Everything about it was amazing and I was crying by the end. I recommend it to anyone.
Middlesex contains a large array of imformation including the early years of Ford Motor Company in Detroit, the burning of Smyrna by Turkish troops in 1922, the nation and culture of Islam, as well the main topic -- hermaphroditism. Cal, the main character, on the first page tells that he was born and raised as a girl but was revealed as a teenager to be a boy, in genetic and chromosomal terms. His complications are due to a genetic mutation kept alive by incestuous marriages in a tiny village high on Mt. Olympus. Although, Cal does not believe that the scientific version of genetics and the ancient Greek notion of fate can explain his life or anyone else's for that matter. A common rags-to-riches theme is conveyed as the story tells the life of Cal's grandparents, then parents, then his own. America is shown as a place of opportunity and fortune and the title, Middlesex is accounted for the name of the street their mansion is on in Grosse Point, Michigan and it is also for Cal's own sexual conflicts. The book is eventful, unpredictable, eager to entertain, but missing the main character throughout the first 215 pages. And this happens when Cal's moment of transsexual truth comes when a hippie doctor decides to remove his testicles and treat him with hormones, give him surgically the nature that nurture has already dictated and make an honest woman of him. Soon after the procedure, he sets out for California on a journey that echoes closely his grandparents' flight from Smyrna. Intertwined throughout the novel, we get a taste of dry humor; for instance, Cal calls his brother "Chapter Eleven" and the "peep show" that occurs in San Francisco is wickedly humorous. The book is a symbol for anyone struggling with their sexuality and was well thought out and planned since it took Eugenides 10 years to write. The novel leads us to the future where particularities are what make us human and that takes precedence over the limitations of female and male as gender.
Calliope Stephanides undergoes birth and rebirth as she discovers that she is a hermaphrodite. Yes, this book is interesting. Yes, this book is about a hermaphrodite. But that isn't the one determining factor in making Middlesex memorable. Eugenides writes so beautifully that he instills a certain quality of life into his characters. Cal is so humane, charming enough so that you don't sympathize with him and instead continue reading to learn more about him; this fresh and imaginative character's flaw is just another stepping stone in his life. Even Desdemona and Lefty's incestuous relationship wrenches your heart, being so genuine yet sinful. Eugenides writes this book in a thoughtful perspective; it's filled with love and empty of regrets and resentment. Middlesex is certainly an unforgettable book, moving your soul as you stayed fixed to your seat reading this heartfelt tale.
I read this book a number of years ago.there is no other book this I read that compares to it. It is the story of a person from Michigan whose story goes back before they were even born. The author did a wonderful job at completely drawing one into the story and its characters. This is a must read for every one. It deals with taboo issues, American history...I don't want to say more and ruin the novel.
One of the best books I've read that truly shows the main characters thoughts as an individual. I would definitely read it time and time again, and suggest it as a interesting read to friends.
This is an unbelievable book. I dont want to reveal too much about the plot, but the transformation that the characters go through is incredible. This book will not only make you laugh and cry but will make you stop and think about how you truly feel. It is an absolute must read!!!
I've noticed a couple low reviews saying this book was dull and difficult to read. My experience was nothing of the sort, as I found the tale completely captivating and unexpected. I tore through the entire novel within a matter of a couple days. My grandmother loaned it to my mother who then gave it to me, so three generations of readers recommend it to others.
Great story - this offers a glimpse of American history while raising poignant thoughts about what being intersexed means.
Middelsex has a beautiful use of language and depicts the dichotomy of telling ones own story by including the historical element of the lives that came before and how it influenced. I did find a few areas that read a bit slow and at times and awkward; however, I think that has more to do with my discomfort with the incestual aspect.
I have not read a book so far this year that comes close to the beautifully descriptive pages of this book. Far more than understanding characters,i actually found myself sympathizing and living their lives through these pages. An absolute joy to read.....thank you for sharing your story and further educating our world....
Middlesex is an extremely well written novel based on gender confusion and the fascinating recount of the history of a family. This book kept me reading during my every free moment, even when I had the opportunity to read one or just a few pages. This is a great book which any reader will have difficulties putting down for a moment. But one thing for sure is that I will start looking for more books like this.
I read the virgin suicides first and fell in love. So I had high standards for this novel and found those standards met
After ready a few trashy books, it was such a relief to read something so incredibly well written. If you don't like disturbing stories, this book probably isn't for you. But the language & voice is fantastic, and I was captivated the whole time. The book does go through a lot of the family's history, so if you are impatient and just want to get to the end, relax. It's really worth reading. Be patient, and enjoy it!
Couldnt put it down
I could not put this book down. I really enjoyed the characters, the story, the places, really just everything about this book.
This is by far one of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading. Eugenides descriptive and in depth prose along with a complete history lesson will entertain and educate you. You will love the characters and gain compassion amd understanding for human differences.
"I raise one fist (male typically) and begin to beat on the walls of my eggshell until it cracks. Then, slippery as yolk, I dive headfirst into the world"(211). Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is about Cal Stephanides. Cal is a hermaphrodite and it's through his narration that we learn about 5-alpha-reductase deficiency and how it affected his development. Cal begins his story in the present day and then takes us back to the beginning, where his grandparents, Lefty and Desdemona make a decision that will forever change his life. I hesitate to go into too much detail as there is so much to be discovered in this book, and those discoveries should be made by you, at your own pace. What I can say, is that Middlesex blew me away. It's a complex, meaty type of read but the best kind of read.one told with humor and a definite voice. It's epic in scope but remarkably readable. The themes of identity, re-birth, transformation, race relations and nature vs. nurture are balanced out with humor and characters that breathe the same air we do. These themes speak to everyone, which is probably why Middlesex won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2003. I read this novel for my Contemporary Lit class and it was well-received by everyone. Even the non-readers in the class had something to say about this book and although I finished it weeks ago, I am still re-reading passages. It's definitely one of my faves for 2010. If this novel escaped your radar when it first came out, I urge you to pick it up now.
This is the first book I have read by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I was riveted! This story spans three generations of Greek immigrants with a very interesting family history. An open mind will enhance the reader's experience of this book. I had not done any research or read anything about this book before reading it, so when I finished and turned it over I was shocked to see "fiction" on the back cover. The author completely duped me; the story was written so well from a personal perspective, I thought it was a true story! I highly recommend this book.