Thursday, April 12, 2007

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I spent most of Monday curled up with this marvelous novel about America, about incestuous love, about sexual identity, about family secrets, about growing up and getting pounded into manhood or womanhood by culture and self and the deep desires of mama and papa.

After years of slogging through pointless, derivative novels, it was a joy to read something so thoroughly engaging, original and well-written. I didn't love Calliope, the narrator, I respected and admired her.

Eugenides is an amazing talent. I've never seen an author play around with past, present and future tense with such alacrity.

The novel is so redolent of immigrant culture it made me yearn terribly for juicier ethnic life than we have on Boston's South Shore. I finished the book thinking, God, it's so white where I am. So, so white. When I put down the book, my body literally ached for the colorful New York Jews of my childhood, and for the wonderful ethnic neighborhoods of Chicago, my favorite of the cities I've lived in.

A delightful read. But long, so don't start it when you're too busy.


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