Tuesday, 5 June, 2012

Book Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I don't remember how I picked up this book in the first place but I am mighty glad I did. As the tittle suggests, it is the story of a hermaphrodite, Callie, who spends the first fourteen years of her life as a girl, till puberty hits and brings many surprises. The story actually starts with the protagonist's grandparents when they migrate from their burning hometown in Greece to the United States, forgetting everything and starting completely afresh. The book tracks the story of this Greek-American family through three generations and at the same time gives the readers a glimpse of the story of America, in particular the city of Detroit, from the 1920s to present. Though some of the issues Callie deals with are specific to her situation, I am sure many of us have been through the process of self doubt, self loathing, confusion and finally self discovery. Do you remember the feeling of feeling out of place, wondering whether our normal is the universal normal and desperately wanting to find one person who understands and accepts us? The ending is bittersweet, but also hopeful. In addition to the interesting plot, unique characters and different setting, I really liked the style of writing. Its been written like a memoir, looking back on life. The writing is humorous in some places, dramatic in others. The names of the charactors are quirky and wonderful : Chapter Eleven (Callie's brother), Lefty (Callie's grandfather) and Obscure Object (Callie's love interest).  There were beautiful phrases in the book like "family legacy of precise, codified, thourough worrying" and "emotional physics". My favorite line from the book,

Whereas I, even now, persist in believing that these black marks on white paper bear the greatest significance, that if I keep writing I might be able to catch the rainbow of consciousness in a jar. The only trust fund I have is this story, and I am dipping into the principical, spending it all..

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