Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Report- Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides

So...who hasnt read this book?  I am pretty sure the whole word had read it, owns it, and has raved about it.  Again, I'm a little slow on the uptake.  I have been wanting to read this book for years, but it was always one of the books I forgot I wanted to read, and then I would get stuck on something else.  But I actually ordered it via our lovely liberary system, and it came and I read it.  and I loved it. 

The story is told from our protagonist (see how I did that, she is greek, her family is greek, so I used a big greek word...yeah, i am that awesome) Calliope (later called Cal), but what is really interesting is that so much of the book takes place before Cal is born.  It starts with her grandparents who are born in Smyrna, a place in between Greece and Turkey, that basically lived in consitant confict over whether they were Greek or Turk.  Through some crazy events, and what most 21st centrury Americans would deem as disgusting, Cal's grandparents were brother and sister, and got married.  As they were on the ship over to America, they staged the whole thing, inventing two people who were falling in love after meeting on the ship for the first time, and I really think even they began to belive it.  (you know those Greeks and thier great acting abilities.).

Her grandparents end up in Detriot in the early 20th century.  The grandfather begins working in a car factory (cuz it's detriot) until the depression hits.  Then he gets involved with a rum runner business with his cousin's husband (they live with his cousin and her husband- who is kinda a d-bag.).  Most people who know me, know that I LOVE the whole speak-easy, rum-runner, mobster, events.  I really think prohibition was one of the worst decisions made by the federal government, in that it just glamorized drinking more than anything else.  And, now that drinking is legal, the government can tax the CRAP out of alcohol, call it a sin tax and people still buy it.   They control what is in it, there is no more "moonshine" that can kill you with a sip, and did I mention, tax the crap out of it?  So, you know me...I definatly found this part very interesting.

So Cal's grandparents have a couple kids, and Cal's cousin and her husband have a kid.  Still in Detriot, though Detriot is becoming more and more like the Detriot I know, and less like the thriving metropolis they knew.  The Grandfather opens a restruant, called the Zebra room.  And ultimately the grandparents son, and the cousins daughter get married.  The produce two children (chapter 11- who is never referred to anything but this...I can only assume it's due to his ultimate business failure) and Calliope.  Calliope is named female, but due to a somewhat senile doctor, is really mis-diagnosed.  We later learn that she has 5-alpha-reductase deficiency (5-ARD)- which basically means she is intersexed.  She is raised as a girl, and this doesnt come to knowldge until she is in her teens (oh-puberty....how much we owe you).

When Calliope does learn of her condition, her parents have made the decision that she should be a girl...Cal knows that she really should be a boy, and runs off (this is due mainly to her lovely Dr .who gives parents half information, but we can't blame him completely becuase Cal was not completely honest with him during all of her evaluation).  She runs to San Fransisco, which was the mecca for sexual revalution in the 70's. 

Cal continues life as a man, but struggles with relationships and intimacy.  He seems to have found a girl at the end of the book who will be accepting of who he is and what he was.

The book was great.  Mr. Eugenides does a wonderful job of taking us through three generations of people, never passing judgement and allowing us, the reader, to become more open-minded as we read.  I highly recommend you pick it up.  If you have read it, read it again.  you never know if you might have missed something.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm....never read it. Guess I'll have to put it in my library queue...