middlesex by jeffrey eugenides

sorabji.com: Last book you read: middlesex by jeffrey eugenides

By droopy on Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 04:44 pm:

    i just now finished this book (finally, after boughts of tearing through it and then putting it down for days). i really liked it, but i'm still processing it. anybody else read this?

By heather on Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 04:49 pm:


By droopy on Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 04:56 pm:


By heather on Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 07:00 pm:

    i said about as much as you did, friend.

    i thought it was okay.
    i learned things i didn't know about detroit.
    it might have meant more to me if i read it when i was younger.
    it's been kind of a long time, i am not remembering anything interesting to say.

By sarah on Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 08:36 pm:

    i read it and enjoyed it a lot. i never did understand why he/she referred to his/her brother exclusively as Chapter Eleven, other than perhaps the narrator thought he was intellectually bankrupt.

    i loved the history of detroit of course too, but also the rich detail of his grandparents' history in greece.

By droopy on Sunday, June 7, 2009 - 08:57 pm:

    just assumed that people would give an opinion without being prompted, heather.

    other people who had read that book already had also wondered about the "chapter eleven" thing, so i kept my eye out. as far as i can tell, it has to do with the fact that, after the father dies, the brother takes over the hot dog business and goes bankrupt in less than five years. so the nickname is retroactive. i don't quite see why he has branded with that name for the whole novel. maybe it's an inside joke on eugenides part.

    i also thought "would've meant more to me when i was younger." i think that means i would have had more of a will to trust my feelings about the book. i think graham greene said something like: in our youth, we look to books that point a way; later in life, we look for books that confirm what we already think. when i was 20, i probably would've been all fired up about this book and run with it. at 42, i'm not confident i have anyplace left to go.

    then again, the narrator and main character (cal) of the book is just a year younger than i.

    i liked the fact that the story of this hermaphrodite started 3 generations earlier in a greek village in turkey. i saw a bit of my father's family in the stephanides (minus the incest, as far as i know). my family basically fled ireland and came to america that treated them like shit. i remember my father taking me to a kennedy museum when i was a kid to show a picture of an old "help wanted. irish need not apply" sign, pointing to it and saying "see! see!" my father is pretty much an irish version of cal's father milton: money-obsessed, emotionally distant, and a staunch republican. looking back on it now, i think that moment in the kennedy museum was the closest he ever came to explaining to me or to himself why he is the way he is.

    the whole hermaphroditism thing is another can of worms. at least in the way that i could apply some of the things in the book - the sense of physical abnormality and coming to terms with it, the callous treatment of the medical community, among other things - to being paralyzed.

    outside of all that, i thought it was a cracking good read. it dragged in parts, but when it got going it was great. i especially liked the death of milton stephanides and it's "occurence at owl creek" touch.

By sarah on Monday, June 8, 2009 - 12:25 am:

    i remember becoming frustrated that it took so long, nearly the end of the book, for she to become he.

By droopy on Monday, June 8, 2009 - 02:24 am:

    that didn't frustrate me at all. the story had to end right at that point he becomes a she, in my opinion. it seems to me this book is basically a fortified bildungsroman (a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character, for the non-pretentious). even in 1922, in turkey, he's there as a character: a rogue chromosone in his granparent's dna. the book ends with teenage cal reflecting back on all of his/her adventures and wondering what the future holds, very much like holden caulfield (to whom he is compared on the book jacket). but in the case of middlesex, it's not as open-ended. you know that at 41 he has a foreign service job in germany and trying to figure out how to woo an asian-american artist he saw on a train. i'm actually glad the intervening time was left to the imagination.

    tomorrow i'll be starting a book about shit. literally.

By agatha on Monday, June 8, 2009 - 12:21 pm:

    I'm really looking forward to reading Middlesex, but it hasn't happened yet. I find that when I own a book, it takes me longer to get around to reading it because I feel so much pressure to get my library books read before they are due back. Still haven't read the Yiddish Policeman's Union for that same reason, even though I bought it the first week it came out. Le sigh.

By platypus on Monday, June 8, 2009 - 02:27 pm:

    This thread makes me think that we should restart the Sorabji Book Club.

By droopy on Monday, June 8, 2009 - 02:30 pm:

    when was there a sorabji book club?

By agatha on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 - 12:29 am:

    What was the book again? I'm too lazy to look right now.

By platypus on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 - 12:35 am:

    the most recent one? I can't remember, and I am lazy too. I suggest that we nominate a new one

By heather on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 - 02:19 am:

    everything is illuminated?

By platypus on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 - 10:16 am:

    I do remember reading that, but I think there was a more recent one?

By agatha on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 - 01:47 am:

    I loved Everything is Illuminated. For the record.

By semillama on Friday, June 12, 2009 - 02:49 pm:

    I just finished the Yiddish Policeman's Union. Great book, I really enjoyed it. Middlesex was pretty good too.

    I'm reading Alternadad by Neil Pollack and the graphic novel Incognegro right now. I highly recommend Incognegro but haven't gotten past the first paragraph in Alternadad so no opinion yet.

By agatha on Friday, June 12, 2009 - 04:07 pm:

    I have Incognegro on display right now! It's intriguing.

By droopy on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - 02:23 am:

    just finished "factory girls: from village to city in a changing china." i liked it.

By droopy on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 12:33 am:

    seriously - read "factory girls".

By agatha on Friday, June 26, 2009 - 11:51 pm:

    I will do so, Droop.

By platypus on Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 12:25 am:

    Added to my hold list at the library!

By sarah on Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 11:19 pm:

    i'm reading books about toilet training, temper tantrums, and breastfeeding.

    yee haw.

By semillama on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 09:58 pm:

    Kazu and I just finished Alternadad by Neil Pollack, which was great. I recommend it to all new parents.

By Danielssss on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 - 05:49 pm:

    I'm on my suicide watch at AMI beach, reading Life of PI which no one told me was so entertaining and life enchancing. Anyone else read it? I am so behind the times. Another day of rain, a few more pages. xoxox to all

By on Thursday, July 2, 2009 - 12:01 am:

    Well, I am looking for a woman.


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