Middlesex review × eBook or Kindle ePUB

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Essing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving 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 fam This would have been better as an NPR story or an episode of This American Life than a novel Or maybe if someone other than Eugenides had written it An interesting idea and a few engrossing sex scenes I like the crocus and the peep tank and the whole long flirtation with The Object drew me in completely and a nice two pages toward the end when Julie accepts Cal for what he is But the prose was awful freuent maneuvers like And me? That's simple I was are really unacceptable And Sing Muse of Greek ladies and their battle against unsightly hair is about as funny as poop Except for the incest the long family history plot was like a mashup of immigrant dramas from cable TV Greek family barely escapes home country to make it to the United States where they wander through 20th century history in a dull procession of unmotivated Gumpy forays into Wikipedia that have no effect whatsoever on their character development Now we'll shove these characters through Prohibition mass production the Detroit race riots The partition of Cyprus San Francisco hippies the tragedy of Michael Dukakis's helmet moment and the founding of the Nation of Islam The incest part of the story was good in the beginning the early love scenes between the grandparents are wonderful and then impressively tedious Desdemona feels guilt and then she feels guilt again The metaphors are embarassingly bad Cal lives on a street named Middlesex and eventually finds reconciliation of the two sides of himself in Berlin after reunification Why not have Desdemona live on I Feel Guilty For Sleeping With My Brother Boulevard? Cal remains completely undefined as a character except in terms of his understandably tough time figuring out his own identity; confused isn't much of a character Everyone else in the book fails to exist at all Jimmy Zizmo turns out to be the founder of the Nation of Islam? Eugenides says self importantly that you've probably guessed that no Not only did I not guess it it doesn't make any sense logical or emotional and it's completely uninteresting Why not have him turn out to be Richard Nixon? Uncle Mike turns out to be a psychopath who extorts his own family? Why? Who cares? Cal's lack of voice or character is the worst thing if your book aims to show readers what it's like inside the world of an intersex person you should show us that world from the inside in a way that makes sense or at least a way that's interesting Cal has no voice no face no identity What voice there is is completely inconsistent with his behavior the current Cal is reticent shy depressed lonely and retiring; our narrator is open boisterous discursive ironic omniscient for no particular reason and irritatingly jokey And the book no has ideas about sexuality than it does about Cal's character As one reviewer said the most disappointing thing about the book is it ends up reinforcing stereotyped dumb ideas about gender like Breasts have the same effect on me as on anyone with my testosterone level as if there were no gays Callie's pursuit of The Object doesn't make her uestion categories it just convinces her she's a boy There is no middle sex here; there's no middle ground; it's gawking than Tiresias like insight Dr. Grass race Deadly Fallout (Red Stone Security, riots of 1967 before moving 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 fam This would have been better as an NPR story or an episode of This American Life than a novel Or maybe if someone other than Eugenides had written it An interesting idea and a few engrossing sex scenes I like the crocus and the peep tank and the whole long flirtation with The Object drew me in completely and a nice two pages toward the end when Julie accepts Cal for what he is But the prose was awful freuent maneuvers like And me? That's simple I was are God's Hammer really unacceptable And Sing Muse of Greek ladies and their battle against unsightly hair is about as funny as poop Except for the incest the long family history plot was like a mashup of immigrant dramas from cable TV Greek family barely escapes home country to make it to the United States where they wander through 20th century history in a dull procession of unmotivated Gumpy forays into Wikipedia that have no effect whatsoever on their character development Now we'll shove these characters through Prohibition mass production the Detroit Akshyay Mulberry Vol.One race Six-Moon Trail riots The partition of Cyprus San Francisco hippies the tragedy of Michael Dukakis's helmet moment and the founding of the Nation of Islam The incest part of the story was good in the beginning the early love scenes between the grandparents are wonderful and then impressively tedious Desdemona feels guilt and then she feels guilt again The metaphors are embarassingly bad Cal lives on a street named Middlesex and eventually finds Como Abrir Mentes Fechadas reconciliation of the two sides of himself in Berlin after The Harlem Hellfighters reunification Why not have Desdemona live on I Feel Guilty For Sleeping With My Brother Boulevard? Cal Longman Introductory Course for the TOEFL Test remains completely undefined as a character except in terms of his understandably tough time figuring out his own identity; confused isn't much of a character Everyone else in the book fails to exist at all Jimmy Zizmo turns out to be the founder of the Nation of Islam? Eugenides says self importantly that you've probably guessed that no Not only did I not guess it it doesn't make any sense logical or emotional and it's completely uninteresting Why not have him turn out to be Richard Nixon? Uncle Mike turns out to be a psychopath who extorts his own family? Why? Who cares? Cal's lack of voice or character is the worst thing if your book aims to show Mustard Seed Magic readers what it's like inside the world of an intersex person you should show us that world from the inside in a way that makes sense or at least a way that's interesting Cal has no voice no face no identity What voice there is is completely inconsistent with his behavior the current Cal is Sekrety ewolucji, kochania i swawolenia reticent shy depressed lonely and Devils Gate retiring; our narrator is open boisterous discursive ironic omniscient for no particular Die ewigen Toten (David Hunter, Band 6) reason and irritatingly jokey And the book no has ideas about sexuality than it does about Cal's character As one Jane Goodalls Animal World reviewer said the most disappointing thing about the book is it ends up The Old Myers Place (Halloween, reinforcing stereotyped dumb ideas about gender like Breasts have the same effect on me as on anyone with my testosterone level as if there were no gays Callie's pursuit of The Object doesn't make her uestion categories it just convinces her she's a boy There is no middle sex here; there's no middle ground; it's gawking than Tiresias like insight

read Î eBook or Kindle ePUB Ç Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex

Ily 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 ep Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a surprising and wonderfully written story about the life of CalliopeCal Stephanopolis who in the opening lines was born twice first as a baby girland then again as a teenage boy The subject of hermaphroditism or intersexuality is addressed throughout as the book as a running theme as the cinématographiue narrator Cal looks back at his childhood as Calliope and explains his complex incestuous family history from the origins of her grandparents as Greeks fleeing Smyrna as the Turks invade to Detroit from the 20s up to the 70s The narrative time shifts between his life as a 41 year old man Cal to this running family history written in a witty humorous style which I found fun and engaging The text ingeniously woven together from history and science with many recurrent themes silkworms Greek orthodox beliefs and practices guilt and redemption etc I couldn't put this book down This is the only Eugenides book I have read but it will definitely check out his other booksAn interesting sidenote trying to explain the book daddy is reading to my 7yo daughter and my 10yo son I was able to painlessly explain why brothers and sisters cannot get married a very common kid's uestion and even reproductive functions in a painless and intuitive way since Callie has organs of both sexes but the penis zizi in kid's French is inside her vagina zezette she cannot have babies and will never menstruate clean the house where the baby can live She also has too many male hormones to develop breasts which happens about the same time or just before menstruation This deformation was the improbable result of the union of a brother and sister two generations back Nature wants to ensure a varied gene pool and thus it is better to seek love outside one's own family This explanation seemed to satisfy both of them UPDATE Great recent article at good housekeepingcom Out of the Ashes (The Legacy Chronicles, reinvention of the American ep Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a surprising and wonderfully written story about the life of CalliopeCal Stephanopolis who in the opening lines was born twice first as a baby girland then again as a teenage boy The subject of hermaphroditism or intersexuality is addressed throughout as the book as a Sharks running theme as the cinématographiue narrator Cal looks back at his childhood as Calliope and explains his complex incestuous family history from the origins of her grandparents as Greeks fleeing Smyrna as the Turks invade to Detroit from the 20s up to the 70s The narrative time shifts between his life as a 41 year old man Cal to this Inside Las Vegas running family history written in a witty humorous style which I found fun and engaging The text ingeniously woven together from history and science with many وجدان زنو recurrent themes silkworms Greek orthodox beliefs and practices guilt and How To Fart - Louder, Longer, and Stronger...without soiling your undies! Also learn how to fart on command, fart more often, and increase the smell. redemption etc I couldn't put this book down This is the only Eugenides book I have BITE (A Mate Of His Own read but it will definitely check out his other booksAn interesting sidenote trying to explain the book daddy is Home Alone reading to my 7yo daughter and my 10yo son I was able to painlessly explain why brothers and sisters cannot get married a very common kid's uestion and even Dr. Grass reproductive functions in a painless and intuitive way since Callie has organs of both sexes but the penis zizi in kid's French is inside her vagina zezette she cannot have babies and will never menstruate clean the house where the baby can live She also has too many male hormones to develop breasts which happens about the same time or just before menstruation This deformation was the improbable Deadly Fallout (Red Stone Security, result of the union of a brother and sister two generations back Nature wants to ensure a varied gene pool and thus it is better to seek love outside one's own family This explanation seemed to satisfy both of them UPDATE Great God's Hammer recent article at good housekeepingcom

Jeffrey Eugenides Ç 3 review

Middlesex tells 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 witn “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” I'd heard Middlesex was about a character who was born intersex and raised as a girl a compelling enough premise on its own but I didn't realize this book was a rich complex family drama spanning multiple generations and featuring heavy subjects like incest immigration family secrets and twentieth century AmericaIt seems some readers were disappointed about this and wanted from our protagonist and narrator but I honestly love these kind of stories So many characters came in and out of this novel and were in turns likeable deserving of sympathy annoying and downright insufferable but kind of in a good way I love it when authors create such well drawn individuals who feel so completely real and alive it makes me far invested in their storiesAnd there is so much going on here We are taken on a journey of familial and genetic history from a small Greek village to Detroit prohibition race riots and many cultural changes to suburban Michigan Eugenides allows Cal to explore his identity and come to terms with who he is by taking his story way back to the beginning Back before he uestioned his gender; back before he was even conceivedI actually uite liked the idea that a person has been years in the making long before they're born That our stories begin way before us in far off lands in communities and societies that are foreign to us Not to get too cheesy but there's something pleasantly overwhelming about novels that make me feel small amid the vast expanse of the universeI really liked it I liked the science I liked the history And I really liked the novel's humanity all these unforgettable characters each having an important part to play in the story of Calliope Cal StephanidesBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube BITE (A Mate Of His Own remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again as a teenage boy in an emergency Home Alone room near Petoskey Michigan in August of 1974” I'd heard Middlesex was about a character who was born intersex and Dr. Grass raised as a girl a compelling enough premise on its own but I didn't Deadly Fallout (Red Stone Security, realize this book was a God's Hammer rich complex family drama spanning multiple generations and featuring heavy subjects like incest immigration family secrets and twentieth century AmericaIt seems some Akshyay Mulberry Vol.One readers were disappointed about this and wanted from our protagonist and narrator but I honestly love these kind of stories So many characters came in and out of this novel and were in turns likeable deserving of sympathy annoying and downright insufferable but kind of in a good way I love it when authors create such well drawn individuals who feel so completely Six-Moon Trail real and alive it makes me far invested in their storiesAnd there is so much going on here We are taken on a journey of familial and genetic history from a small Greek village to Detroit prohibition Como Abrir Mentes Fechadas race The Harlem Hellfighters riots and many cultural changes to suburban Michigan Eugenides allows Cal to explore his identity and come to terms with who he is by taking his story way back to the beginning Back before he uestioned his gender; back before he was even conceivedI actually uite liked the idea that a person has been years in the making long before they're born That our stories begin way before us in far off lands in communities and societies that are foreign to us Not to get too cheesy but there's something pleasantly overwhelming about novels that make me feel small amid the vast expanse of the universeI Longman Introductory Course for the TOEFL Test really liked it I liked the science I liked the history And I Mustard Seed Magic really liked the novel's humanity all these unforgettable characters each having an important part to play in the story of Calliope Cal StephanidesBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube


10 thoughts on “Middlesex

  1. says:

    I got off the bus from Bumbershoot around 1 AM exhausted Convinced that even the cars speeding past my window couldn’t keep me from this night’s rest I opened the door to a stench of exceptional vileness Not a dead stench or a spoiled food stench This was the stench of sewage From a spot in the center of the living room I surveyed the apartment and discovered the source the commode and the area around it were covered in yuck I dialed up the landlord The exchange went something like this “There’s shit on my floor” Why mince words?“What do you want me to do about it?” “I want you to fix my toilet so there won’t be shit on my floor”“Have you tried a plunger?” “What do you think?” “And that didn’t work?” After 20 minutes of this verbal badminton I realized the man wasn’t going to get out of bed without a signed act of congress He told me there was an all night Denny’s down the street should I need a toilet during the night So it was that at 2 AM after multiple rounds of cleaning and yakking I found myself seated in the kitchen on a kibble filled bucket a can of beer in one hand and Middlesex in the other“There was a place halfway between consciousness and unconsciousness where Tessie did her best thinking”I’d had two weeks to kill awaiting the arrival of all my worldly possessions Plenty of time to determine that the kibble bucket was ergonomically preferable to the floor or my sleeping bag With my front door situated not five feet from a four lane road and one block from a strip bar whose patrons seemed to enjoy loitering in front of my building the noise was like steel wool on my nerves which were already shot from a marathon cross country drive with three cats a dog and a friend who was hitching a ride to her father’s funeral in St Louis all crammed into my car With no job no friends no furniture and now apparently no plumbing this move was beginning to look like a profound error in judgment The story of a 5 Alpha Reductase Pseudohermaphrodite proved a likely escape “When you travel like I did vague about destination and with an open ended itinerary a holy seeming openness takes over your character”I’d only brought one book on my trip west Considerable thought went into the choice—it had to be an author with a proven ability to hold my interest It had to be long enough to cover the duration of the journey And it would need to stand up to multiple readings in the event of the delay of the moving truck or my inability to obtain a library card As a creative writing major I’d read The Virgin Suicides and marveled at the rotating first person narrative the subtlety of the prose and the fine edge between humor and poignance Middlesex seemed a safe betThe book was my constant companion After a day of fruitless job interviews I could go home to Callie Stephanides and her family safe in the knowledge that there were over 200 pages to go before I’d need to find a new distraction But the new distraction had already found me I hadn’t written anything longer than a grocery list in 8 years With all the time in the world and a good book as your muse aspirations can get pretty lofty “Even back then the Great Books were working on me silently urging me to pursue the most futile human dream of all the dream of writing a book worthy of joining their number”I won’t say that Middlesex turned me into a writer or anything lofty like that The first time I saw Singin’ in the Rain I nearly concussed myself trying run up a wall When I reached the last word I closed the book Waited five minutes Began again“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”


  2. says:

    Don't judge a book by its coverI'd seen this book on the shelves of a number of friends and in the arms of a number of travelers so I decided to pick it up The title Middlesex suggested English countryside to me On the cover was what looked like a steamship and a uote on the back began Part Tristram Shanty part Ishmael So I came to the foolish conclusion that this was some 19th century English seafaring novel TypicalI couldn't have been wrongMiddlesex is the story of a hermaphrodite who grew up as Calliope but discovered in her adolescence that she is actually Cal than Calliope More specifically Middlesex the title takes on a new meaning now is the story of three generations of a Greek family and the incestuous genetic and social history that enables the existence of Cal who narrates the storyThe novel is epic It spans nearly a century and traces the Stephanides family from battle torn Greece and Turkey in the 1920s across an Atlantic voyage from the street corners of Detroit through World War II and out to the suburban haven of Grosse Pointe Michigan The novel incorporates details upon details from all different spheres of life dropping name brands from different time periods and regions and incorporating specialized jargon from a wide range of fields Jeffrey Eugenides must have done an immense immense amount of research during the writing process And the scope is as broad as the focus is often narrow Over the course of 20th century the Stephanides family responds to and participates in political social and cultural movements and through them we feel not only the sweep of a small Greek enclave but also the sweep of a nation's growth as it engages Prohibition World War II the idealism of the 50s the revolutions of the 60s and 70s and The story is as much about the conflicts within a country as it is about a family trying to face its secrets past and present Through it all Cal as a narrator is clever and endearing A story about a hermaphrodite sounds unfamiliar to most at first and there are moments in the novel when Cal faces the visceral or fearful reactions that arise in those prone to fear But from page one Eugenides clears the air setting us on a fresh foundation and we discover a character who faces familiar childhood and adolescent trials and tribulations we discover the humanity of a character one might otherwise find alienated elsewhere Do I recommend it? Yes It's a good tale for the modern age Would I teach it? Not likely At 527 pages it's just too long Lasting impression? Epic I'll remember it for the incredible depth and breadth of knowledge it demonstrates This novel impresses upon me the amount of research that an author must do to prepare for a serious work


  3. says:

    “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” I'd heard Middlesex was about a character who was born intersex and raised as a girl a compelling enough premise on its own but I didn't realize this book was a rich complex family drama spanning multiple generations and featuring heavy subjects like incest immigration family secrets and twentieth century AmericaIt seems some readers were disappointed about this and wanted from our protagonist and narrator but I honestly love these kind of stories So many characters came in and out of this novel and were in turns likeable deserving of sympathy annoying and downright insufferable but kind of in a good way I love it when authors create such well drawn individuals who feel so completely real and alive it makes me far invested in their storiesAnd there is so much going on here We are taken on a journey of familial and genetic history from a small Greek village to Detroit prohibition race riots and many cultural changes to suburban Michigan Eugenides allows Cal to explore his identity and come to terms with who he is by taking his story way back to the beginning Back before he uestioned his gender; back before he was even conceivedI actually uite liked the idea that a person has been years in the making long before they're born That our stories begin way before us in far off lands in communities and societies that are foreign to us Not to get too cheesy but there's something pleasantly overwhelming about novels that make me feel small amid the vast expanse of the universeI really liked it I liked the science I liked the history And I really liked the novel's humanity all these unforgettable characters each having an important part to play in the story of Calliope Cal StephanidesBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube


  4. says:

    Alright it’s high time I review this hermaphroditic little masterpieceBeing a pseudo biochemist pseudo in the sense that I only pretend to be a biochemist whereas in reality I write scientific development reports and other documents that no one will ever read but which I’ve convinced myself are just as fulfilling as doing real science I find the premise of this novel to be incredibly interesting5α Reductase deficiency is an autosomal recessive disorder; autosomal meaning that the gene coding for 5α Reductase is not located on a sex chromosome X or Y and recessive meaning that one would need two copies of a mutated form of the gene in order to express the disease trait Since we as a biological species inherit one copy of every gene from each of our parents it would not be enough to have only one mutated form of this gene because a single “good” copy is all that’s reuired for proper function Because of this the proper functioning gene is considered to be completely dominant over the mutated form in terms of phenotypic expressionHere is a Punnett suare showing basic concepts of Mendelian genetics Each form of the gene is called an allele “B” represents the dominant allele or the healthy gene form; “b” represents the recessive allele If both parents are phenotypically “normal” the only way they would be able to have any offspring with this disease is if they were both carriers meaning they each have one dominant and one recessive allele In this way they are said to be heterozygous for this trait the genotype of which is represented as “Bb” For any child they conceive there would exist a 25% chance of that child inheriting two recessive alleles This is referred to as being homozygous recessive the genotype of which is represented as “bb” Only homozygous recessive children will express the diseaseSince the protagonist of this novel has unluckily inherited both recessive alleles one from each of his parents he ends up with the disorder So what is this disorder exactly? The 5α Reductase gene codes for an enzyme which converts testosterone into a potent sex steroid called dihydrotestosterone or DHT which plays a fundamental role in the formation of the male sex organs Since disease subjects do not have the ability to convert testosterone into DHT they end up with too much testosterone and not enough DHT which in some cases leads to the formation of ambiguous genitaliaThese ambiguous genitalia form one of the many but probably the most interesting subjects of the novel The author begins by tracing the history of these recessive alleles back through the family lineage before elegantly leading us to the budding of the protagonist’s crocus his ambiguous little penis stub yes you should click there; and yes you should see that movie Perhaps not surprisingly the historical tracing reveals some ancestral inbreeding as well And since the protagonist is still genotypically male even though he doesn’t know it and neither do his parents or anybody else the real fun begins when he enters pubertyWhen I met with my book club to talk about this fantastic novel a few pronoun choices were used for describing the protagonist he she he she it etc But all joking aside the protagonist is male He is male by genotypic definition he has two healthy sex chromosomes one of which is a Y and he sexually identifies himself as male which is consistent with other real life sufferers of 5α Reductase deficiency


  5. says:

    This would have been better as an NPR story or an episode of This American Life than a novel Or maybe if someone other than Eugenides had written it An interesting idea and a few engrossing sex scenes I like the crocus and the peep tank and the whole long flirtation with The Object drew me in completely and a nice two pages toward the end when Julie accepts Cal for what he is But the prose was awful freuent maneuvers like And me? That's simple I was are really unacceptable And Sing Muse of Greek ladies and their battle against unsightly hair is about as funny as poop Except for the incest the long family history plot was like a mashup of immigrant dramas from cable TV Greek family barely escapes home country to make it to the United States where they wander through 20th century history in a dull procession of unmotivated Gumpy forays into Wikipedia that have no effect whatsoever on their character development Now we'll shove these characters through Prohibition mass production the Detroit race riots The partition of Cyprus San Francisco hippies the tragedy of Michael Dukakis's helmet moment and the founding of the Nation of Islam The incest part of the story was good in the beginning the early love scenes between the grandparents are wonderful and then impressively tedious Desdemona feels guilt and then she feels guilt again The metaphors are embarassingly bad Cal lives on a street named Middlesex and eventually finds reconciliation of the two sides of himself in Berlin after reunification Why not have Desdemona live on I Feel Guilty For Sleeping With My Brother Boulevard? Cal remains completely undefined as a character except in terms of his understandably tough time figuring out his own identity; confused isn't much of a character Everyone else in the book fails to exist at all Jimmy Zizmo turns out to be the founder of the Nation of Islam? Eugenides says self importantly that you've probably guessed that no Not only did I not guess it it doesn't make any sense logical or emotional and it's completely uninteresting Why not have him turn out to be Richard Nixon? Uncle Mike turns out to be a psychopath who extorts his own family? Why? Who cares? Cal's lack of voice or character is the worst thing if your book aims to show readers what it's like inside the world of an intersex person you should show us that world from the inside in a way that makes sense or at least a way that's interesting Cal has no voice no face no identity What voice there is is completely inconsistent with his behavior the current Cal is reticent shy depressed lonely and retiring; our narrator is open boisterous discursive ironic omniscient for no particular reason and irritatingly jokey And the book no has ideas about sexuality than it does about Cal's character As one reviewer said the most disappointing thing about the book is it ends up reinforcing stereotyped dumb ideas about gender like Breasts have the same effect on me as on anyone with my testosterone level as if there were no gays Callie's pursuit of The Object doesn't make her uestion categories it just convinces her she's a boy There is no middle sex here; there's no middle ground; it's gawking than Tiresias like insight


  6. says:

    Exactly the flawless masterpiece you've heard it is I've read hundreds of novels in my day this is in the top 3 On eual shelf with A Confederacy of Dunces Blonde My own personal trifecta perfecta The THE the best novels of ALL TIME I will never stop lauding this book Unbelievable mythic; the stuff from the Gods to anyone with an eye brain to receive from the way up up up heightsThis is LIFE AFFIRMING literature that's meant to be treasured for the rest of your blessed life The main character will stay with you until the day you die


  7. says:

    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a surprising and wonderfully written story about the life of CalliopeCal Stephanopolis who in the opening lines was born twice first as a baby girland then again as a teenage boy The subject of hermaphroditism or intersexuality is addressed throughout as the book as a running theme as the cinématographiue narrator Cal looks back at his childhood as Calliope and explains his complex incestuous family history from the origins of her grandparents as Greeks fleeing Smyrna as the Turks invade to Detroit from the 20s up to the 70s The narrative time shifts between his life as a 41 year old man Cal to this running family history written in a witty humorous style which I found fun and engaging The text ingeniously woven together from history and science with many recurrent themes silkworms Greek orthodox beliefs and practices guilt and redemption etc I couldn't put this book down This is the only Eugenides book I have read but it will definitely check out his other booksAn interesting sidenote trying to explain the book daddy is reading to my 7yo daughter and my 10yo son I was able to painlessly explain why brothers and sisters cannot get married a very common kid's uestion and even reproductive functions in a painless and intuitive way since Callie has organs of both sexes but the penis zizi in kid's French is inside her vagina zezette she cannot have babies and will never menstruate clean the house where the baby can live She also has too many male hormones to develop breasts which happens about the same time or just before menstruation This deformation was the improbable result of the union of a brother and sister two generations back Nature wants to ensure a varied gene pool and thus it is better to seek love outside one's own family This explanation seemed to satisfy both of them UPDATE Great recent article at good housekeepingcom


  8. says:

    This isn’t so much a review as an embarrassing story I gave the book four stars for a reason The writing is beautiful I would recommend it Now onwards to my shameSo Brooke and I were standing in line to meet Eugenides Please understand it was a really long line after a similarly long day at work We passed the time chitchatting about this and that at our workplace and life in general By the time the organizer offered post its to our segment of the line we were getting silly and joked about all the crazy names and titles you could reuest Instead of sticking to your name you could put down “Boo Bear” or “Sunshine Sally” Just imagine you could have an autographed book with some outrageous inscription like “To the best unicorn Jeffrey Eugenides” Throughout the course of the night I had been trying to persuade Brooke to visit a bookstore I thought she would enjoy She was reluctant for unknown reasons Under the influence of a bizarre mixture of exasperation exhaustion and silliness I proposed a bet I had already written my plain ole name on the post it If she promised to accompany me to an event at the bookstore I would add “baby” under my name She uickly agreedAs we waited thereafter I began to second guess the stunt But before I could reuest a new post it the line betrayed me While it had moved at a glacial pace initially now it swept me forward When I handed Eugenides my book he stared at the post it for a second and then looked up at us He asked “Who is Cassy Baby? Is that you?” I was mortified Utterly mortified I tried to uickly explain the promised bookstore visit but I think in actuality I just pointed at Brooke and mumbled something like “She made me” Looking back the whole episode could be construed as a power struggle Could a literary nobody force a Pulitzer Prize winner to write something stupid? If he refused he might seem like a jerk His best option was probably to play along and bless his heart he did Perhaps he thought it was amusing I doubt it So here it isimage error


  9. says:

    This is a book about transitionTransition from child to adult to parent and grandparentFrom native to immigrantFrom brother and sister to husband and wifeFrom rural dweller to urbaniteFrom modest affluence to poverty and up againFrom loving language to losing the power of speechFrom geek to hippie From war through peace to civil unrestFrom belief to unbeliefFrom rescued to rescuerFrom moral probity to corruption and crimeOh and one character transitions from female to maleThe last of those is the book's USP but don't let that fool you it's no limited to those with niche interests in intersex conditions than it's limited to those of Greek heritage It is an unusual story but with universal themes told by a wonderfully engaging lyrical narratorFew of us fit neatly into binary categories We all go through many transitions in our lives; the final one is only another kind of emigration This book speaks to everyone not just those like Cal's family who have always had a knack for self transformationPlotThe family originally raised silkworms so metamorphosis and long threads are at the heart of their lives as well as the story No fear of spoilers the key aspects are summarised in the opening paragraphs starting with I was born twice first as a baby girl and then again as a teenage boy The rest of the book brings two strands together Cal's grandparents Lefty and Desdemona fleeing the Turks in 1922 as siblings and arriving in the US as husband and wife and how that meant Cal ended up with a recessive intersex condition and is now telling his story He sometimes addresses the reader directly shout outs to deus ex machina Checkov's gun etcIn many respects it is a conventional sweeping family drama of the ups and downs of the American Dream building and rebuilding businesses against the backdrop of the Vietnam war and civil rights movement but with an extra dose of teen angst about puberty or lack thereof However the final few chapters strike an oddly different tone Octopussy's Garden is partly to hammer home the parallels with Greek mythology and echo a passage in the middle where Cal muses on the transformations of puberty using sea creatures as an analogy but the final intrigue and chase felt very off key compared with the rest of the bookThere is also an innate female circularity to the story perhaps because Greeks believe that to be happy you have to find variety in repetition; that to go forward you have to come back to where you began This is compounded by some reversal like Amis's execrable Time's Arrow in old age Lefty's mind and memories go into reverse and in an early section Cal describes his birth like a film on rewindDestiny The Known and UnknownCal is omniscient not just when he remembers things he wouldn't be able to recall including being a foetus but also in terms of how much he knows about other people's inner thoughts and private actions On a few occasions it feels a little weird the erotic significance of the grandmother's corset for instance but it's how he makes the extraordinary aspects of the plot credible he has already conjured believable characters the reader cares about Nevertheless the lack of knowledge often displayed is staggering yet just about plausible The most significant examples are that Desdemona and Lefty get away with their relationship and that no one realises Calliope as he originally is is not a girl There are others though such as teenage fumblings and at which point Cal clearly understood that I wasn't a girl but something in between though the boy involved did notSome of the ignorance is cultivated When Desdemona and Lefty fake a courtship on the boat Lefty never discouraged any speculation He seized the opportunity of transatlantic travel to reinvent himself Aware that whatever happened now would become the truth Playing out this imaginary flirtation they began to believe it it wasn't other travellers they were trying to convince; it was themselvesForgetting also matters Everything about Middlesex the house spoke of forgetting and everything about Desdemona made plain the inescapability of forgettingThere are echoes of Greek mythology throughout which gives a certain weight and tone to how Cal tells it For instance An infinite number of possible selves crowded the threshold as Cal's parents prepare to conceive him and it's no coincidence that his childhood church was the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and that they later move to Middlesex Boulevard It also creates an additional layer of foreshadowing Cal's father is conceived after his parents see a play about a hybrid monster and at a significant medical appointment about Cal Milton Cal's father wears traditional Tragedy and Comedy masks as cufflinks which way will it go?SexSexual identity is key Desdemona is obsessed with predicting the sex of unborn children and Cal himself was only conceived because his parents really wanted a girl they already had a son and believed they had found a way to improve the odds of that He was born at the women's hospital and It was all around me from the beginning the weight of female suffering with its biblical justification and vanishing acts Nothing unusual was noticed by the elderly doctor so Five minutes old and already the themes of my life chance and sex announced themselvesThere is relatively little about Cal's adaptation to living as a man though there is a sweet sideline in learning how to date women the perils of what to tell them when etc Most of the story leads up to that realization the agonies of not developing when her friends do then growing oddly tall and awkward struggling with infatuation with girls etc However there are glimpses of the adult issues I'm not androgynous when Calliope surfaces she does so like a childhood speech impediment It's a little like being possessed Callie rises up inside me wearing my skin like a loose robe But then just as suddenly she is leaving shrinking and melting away inside me Cal is currently in Berlin and This once divided city reminds me of myself A childhood trip to Cyprus was cancelled by annexation Cyprus was being cut in half like all the other places in the world that were no longer one thing or the otherIt is incest that causes Cal's condition but there is no rancour in the telling of the story perhaps because it's not just Desdemona and Lefty Other cousins married each other Cal's parents are cousins conceived on the same day who grew up together and even some couples who are not related by blood have a rather incestuous aspect a much older husband who treats his wife in some ways like a daughter; an engaged couple who split only for the spurned man to marry the sister of her new boyfriend; one sibling suggesting another experiment with masturbation; a first sexual encounter with a best friend's brother followed by intimacy with the friend But none of it's salacious A uiet irony is that the English test at Ellis Island is about eunuchs DesdeomonaCal's grandmother is central to the book In many ways they have very contrasting lives but there are surprising parallels too After an initial coldness there is a special bond between them Desdemona disapproved of Milton and Tessie marrying of trying to choose their sex of the baby and was then upset when her prediction of a boy was wrong However she was uickly won over at which point Cal gave Desdemona back her original sinShe had been an innocent village girl surprised by developments of her own body as well as her heart and that of her brother Her body was a constant embarrassment to her It was always announcing itself in ways she didn't want to sanctionher body was still a stranger to its owner which applies just as much to Cal Similarly just as Desdemona had to reinvent herself as wife instead of sister and forge an identity in a new country Callie becomes Cal Like a stroke victim as Lefty was I was having to learn all the most simple skills and I was like an immigrant to the world of men Diagnosis and Treatment What Determines Gender?From my birth when they went undetected to my baptism where they upstaged the priest to my troubled adolescence when they didn't do much of anything and then did everything at once my genitals have been the most significant thing that ever happened to meGender is not always clearcut determined by a variety of influences chromosomal sex; gonadal sex; hormones; internal genital structures; external genitals; and most important the sex of rearing The last is the belief of the doctor who saw it as like a native tongue imprinted in the brain during childhood Cal raised as a girl proves otherwiseCal's father looks to medicine to fix her problem and both parents react differently Milton heard the words that were there He heard 'treatment' and 'effective' Tessie on the other hand heard the words that weren't there The doctor hadn't said my name He hadn't said 'daughter' either He didn't use any pronouns Cal is left poised between the print of genetics and the White Out of surgery But we're all made up of many partsControversy Appropriateness and SensitivitySome uestion Eugenides' right to write a book like this He is Greek American but does not have any intersex condition and is not a trans person Further Cal and his doctors uses the term hermaphrodite which many find offensive when applied to peopleAs a straight cis woman with no medical background I guess I am not really in a position to defend against such criticisms Nevertheless I think those who actually read it would find it hard to take offence at the sensitive and insightful way this aspect is portrayed As for the H word I expect it's what doctors in the 1960s would have used and there are still places where 5 Alpha Reductase Deficiency is described in such terms Eugenides has said The story of Hermaphroditus the beautiful son of Hermes and Aphrodite is one I retell in modern guise in two different sections of the book and I'm referring not to a person or a group of people but to a literary character From For me one of the bigger issues is the focus of mid teen Cal's desires The Obscure Object Calling a girl or woman an object can't be good can it? Yet it doesn't come across as objectifying in the usual sense It's a way of preserving anonymity and distance reflecting her special idolised position in Cal's life More troubling is the the issue of consent view spoilerIf one partner is apparently asleep but enjoying things and the pattern is repeated over many nights is that OK? As a plain uestion I'd say not but the way it's described I'm inclined to sit firmly on the fence Another tricky aspect is the exploitation or not of sex workers; even if it's dressed up as empowerment I'm not convinced it is hide spoiler


  10. says:

    Some people inherit houses; others paintings or highly insured violin bows Still others get a Japanese tansu or a famous name I got a recessive gene on my fifth chromosome and some very rare family jewels indeedLet me say first that Jeffrey Eugenides is an extraordinary storyteller Why I’ve waited so long to read one of his books is beyond me Middlesex is an epic multi generational saga of a Greek family with one of the most engaging narrative voices I’ve come across in uite some time It’s also the story of said narrator Cal and what might be considered a rather unconventional topic – that of hermaphroditism 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 I have to admit that I picked this book up ages ago and set it aside At the time I thought there was no way I could establish any kind of connection to the main character given the fact I had never had any kind of exposure to persons with this condition There is an incestuous element that made me run the other direction as well Now of course I’ve matured a bit since that time and realize that there are a myriad of ways to connect to any human being The skillful pen of Eugenides helped a bit too of course This time I was hooked from the start and simply couldn’t help but be charmed by Cal The author takes us into some places that are uncomfortable those shadowy places that could get uite dark if handled differently Instead we are taken there with a voice that is often humorous while still managing to be sensitive and respectful – an admirable accomplishmentI’m not going to go into any further detail about this book – there are thousands of other reviews and my goal is to catch up on mine before summer slips away I’ve failed to mention that this book is also rich in historical detail and I’m always a sucker for that Eugenides manages to weave so much history throughout and he does so uite seamlessly Motor City the Detroit race riots Asia Minor conflicts immigration issues and family dynamics are all explored But Middlesex is much than that It’s also a drama about the human condition that is so compelling that you will feel an attachment to Cal even if you never thought it possible If you can set aside any feelings of uneasiness and just allow yourself to get swept away with Cal’s story then you are in for a real treat A 5 star book that I highly recommend