Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not as Scandalous as Imagined

For a while now, people have been recommending the book Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. As a book club read, it's finally on "the list".

I'm not exactly sure what I had expected, but have enojoyed reading this fictitious memoir of a hermaphrodite that begins "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."

There are times I've forgotten the story is fictitious. Dare I admit that more than once checking the author's name on the cover to be sure it really isn't Calliope Helen Stephanides or even Cal Stephanides?

The breadth and scope of characters and their family tree with all the grafts rather than branches is an interesting creation. This Pulitzer Prize winning novel is an interesting study on nature vs. nurture and all the shades between. Quite an imagination!


Natalie said...

interesting... I may have to check it out.

J+S said...

For the first time since I have seen this book, I am actually tempted to buy it and read it. Is it offensive or graphic at all or more interesting?

Andrea - said...

I don't know if I would purchase the book myself, simply because I don't think I'll ever re-read it. However, if I did own it, I would lend it out. I borrowed it from the library and it will be going back shortly.

I wouldn't want my teenager or even some young adults to read it. The themes are fairly mature. Keep in mind that the family tree didn't branch much (AKA incest) and the characters live their own kind of morality.

The charaters interesting and the plot unique. There were several disturbing occurences in the book. It is a coming of age story of someone who was raised female, but discovered at 14 that they were genetically male.

There were some graphic parts that I skipped over--a general idea of the situation was sufficient. If the book were made into a movie, they could do it PG-13, but it would be more likely R. There was some language in it.

Overall I found the book redeeming--but I had forged into it rather reluctantly and had very low expectations. The book will lend itself well to discussion about gender, nature/nuture, relationships, choices the characters made, even choices they didn't make, etc.

The plot was complex and the relationships of the characters were well developed. We have read several memoirs for BC lately and it felt like a memoir as I read. The language flowed and I was suspended in disbelief.

Carrying the book around caused a lot of inquisitive looks. My friends teased me about the kinds of things I carried around in my purse. I found out from my dad that, when I was young, we had a family friend that was a hermaphrodite.

J+S said...

Hmmm, maybe I won't read it. Are you going to be my friend on Goodreads?