(april 11, 2009)
i’ve been waiting to write a review of the book Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes, but i wanted to finish the very last page before putting my thoughts down. i wouldn’t say that i enjoyed reading this book, but i did love reading it. the story is unsettling in that it challenged my views of love, of gender, and of what is right and wrong. it felt real in that the details seemed spot on for life in detroit during prohibition and then through to the 1970’s. i have never been to detroit, bit i now feel like i know a thing or two about it through Euginedes’ descriptions.
i also feel as though i know a thing or two about being intersexed (or a hermaphrodite, i am not exactly sure what the accurate terminology is) as the story of calliope unfolds. there is something about the author’s telling of the story that made me confident that not a detail was lost and that everything seemed true, even though it is fiction. i believed every word and when i stop to think that it was not a true story and that he had to invent those details, i am awestruck and utterly impressed.
the story is not apologetic, it is not gentle, and it captures the childhood, youth, and adulthood of its narrator by following their family tree back to turkey when a family immigrated to the us to flee the war with greece.
i have always had a soft spot for books that follow a family through the generations (Rohinton Mistry does this well and another canadian novel called A Good House, whose author i cannot recall at this non internet moment, is one of my all time favourites for this intergenerational story telling), and Middlesex is no exception.
i liked this book and i know it will be one that i am thinking about for a long time.