Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I promise that this post is really a book review for Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, but first I need to ramble for a moment.

I am avoiding all of the political talk this evening. I really am not a fan...regardless of who is running or who is winning. I just tire of the bickering.

Instead, I spent some time out in the garage painting Miss Marley's present. I know you're curious as to what the crap I'm talking about, but I just have to keep it a little bit of a secret for a couple more days. All you get for now is a reminder of the colors.

I'm using the bottom colors on each: Tropical Green & Iris Plum
I have to say...I'm loving the purple. The green...I have mixed emotions about the green. It's a pretty color, but because it's a lighter color, getting a good cover is a pain. Some places have required three coats to look right. I've also been wildly cursing my dogs. Somehow, Harley's hair keeps showing up attached to my paintbrush. Earlier this evening, Piper managed to run through the garage and right through the wet paint on one of the doors. I had to clean up green paw prints. Ugh. But...the project is moving forward and starting to look like it should. Bulk painting is on track to be finished tomorrow, with the detailed painting to be completed on Thursday. We are currently scheduled to take it over on Friday evening, the day after her birthday. And then I'll share it with you.

Anyway...back to the task at hand.

I have been super horrible about keeping up on my book reviews. I am currently nearly twenty books behind. Ouch.

I'm not exactly sure how this book ended up on my "to read" list. Based on some of the content, I'm guessing that it was on some banned book list at some point. Being the rebel that I am, I like to read that kind of thing.

Middlesex follows a family as they emigrate to the United States from Greece and then settle in the Detroit area. The book centers on Calliope Stephanides, but branches out to cover three generations of the Stephanides family. Middlesex is not only the name of the neighborhood Calliope's family lives in, but also fittingly describes the situation at the center of the story.

Calliope, who now prefers to be called Cal, is a hermaphrodite. The genetic condition came about as the result of a family secret that began with her grandparents.  Lefty and Desdemona Stephanides are not only husband and wife, they are also brother and sister. The pair were great friends throughout childhood, but both began to feel closer to one another as they aged. Their parents died, leaving the two of them to have nothing left but one another. They fled Greece together during a political upheaval and identified themselves as spouses upon landing on the shores of the United States. The secret has been hidden from family members for years, kept quiet out of Desdemona's shame.

Overall, the book is pretty composed. I think it follows chronology well and keeps fairly good cohesion moving back and forth from different eras. However, the language was a little awkward at times, a little crude, a little...underdeveloped. It also felt like the story sometimes got lost in the "extras"...the explanations of historical events and unrelated topics.

The topics were certainly taboo enough to earn this book a nice little spot on some banned book lists, however...I found myself surprised to realize that it was published in 2003. For some reason, it seemed that I was reading an older book, one that maybe would have been presented during some kind of English Lit course in college. It just had that quirky feel about it.

It was really a rare case where I found myself liking the story, but not really liking the writing. Something about the author's tone rubbed me the wrong way now and again. Usually for me it's the other way around. Regardless, I liked it okay and wound up giving Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 3 out of 5 stars.


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