In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry-blond classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, Callie has inherited a rare genetic mutation. The ...
In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry-blond classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, Callie has inherited a rare genetic mutation. The biological trace of a guilty secret, this gene has followed her grandparents from the crumbling Ottoman Empire to Detroit and has outlasted the glory days of the Motor City, the race riots of 1967, and the family's second migration, into the foreign country known as suburbia. Thanks to the gene, Callie is part girl, part boy. And even though the gene's epic travels have ended, her own odyssey has only begun. Sprawling across eight decades - and one unusually awkward adolescence - Jeffrey Eugenides' long-awaited second novel is a grand, utterly original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire. It marks the fulfillment of a huge talent, named one of America's best young novelists by both GRANTA and the NEW YORKER.
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Difficult to get into...bogs down with esoteric language and thoughts but...worth the effort just to see how the author pulls it all together.
Nov 17, 2011
Good but Different
This story is the coming of age of a hermafrodite, And also the story of his grandparents, which is quite colorful. It is easy reading and keeps your interest.
Jun 29, 2008
Surpisingly, I liked it! 4.5 stars!
I'll have to join the ranks of many of the other reviewers here and say I probably never would have read this book if it hadn't been chosen for my book club. I, too, thought the story would be a one dimensional search for gender identity--not so. I was hooked from the beginning. I would describe the story as one of an American family through generations--their journey just happened to produce a certain side effect compared to other families' journeys. Being just a few years younger than Cal I appreciated the nostalgic references to the cultural symbols, products, events, and fashions/styles of the day. I thought the author also chose an interesting omnicient narrative style (by Cal) for the story as well. I did have a couple of squirmy moments (the scenes with Dr. Luce really creeped me out). I only give it 4.5 stars simply because I would really have to know someone fairly well to recommend the book.
Jan 11, 2008
Y E S ! ! !
I was hooked by the opening sentence and taken on a journey into another world. This is an outstanding example of how fiction can educate and enlighten us. The author has created a hero (heroine) we can admire, empathize with and laugh with through a difficult life changing self discovery.
A perfect book for Book Club discussions!
Jan 10, 2008
Although it's a well written novel and moves along at a brisk pace, I never got the "wow" factor that so many others seemed to get from this novel. Truly I was amazed that not only was this a bestseller but also a Pulitzer prize winner too.
Essentially Middlesex is two novels in one. The first half is a historical emigrant novel against the back drop of historical events and the second half is a coming of age novel of an awkward girl who just so happens to be a hermaphrodite.
I was really expecting something more, something edgy, something gritty. Middlesex is a novel for middle America who want to read a "safe" novel without feeling uncomfortable about the subject matter. In that regard it succeeds.
The only thing I enjoyed was the realization why Cal's brother is called Chapter Eleven. Ultimately I was extremely underwhelmed with it all.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-12-02 Without a doubt, this audio edition of Eugenides's long-awaited second novel (after The Virgin Suicides) represents an acme of the audiobook genre: the whole equals much more than the sum of its parts. This is simultaneously the tale of a gene passed down through three generations and the story of Calliope Stephanides, the recipient of that gene. Never quite feeling at home in her body, Callie discovered at the age of 14 that she is, in fact, genetically, if not completely anatomically, a boy. From this point on she becomes Cal, and it is Cal, the 41-year-old man, who narrates the story, dipping all the way back in history to the time of his grandparents' incestuous relationship in war-torn Turkey. Tabori's performance of the text is phenomenal. His somewhat high-register, wavering voice, reminiscent of a young Burgess Meredith, is completely convincing as both the young female Callie and the older male Cal. Not only are his interpretations of the characters astonishingly credible, but his internalization of the narrative is nothing short of amazing. Listeners will feel this exhilarating story is being told personally to them for the very first time. Additionally, the intro music at the beginning of each of the 28 sides is different, with each snippet offering a different style of music, reflecting the current timeline and mood of the story. This adds a subtle but wonderful effect. Simultaneous release with the FSG hardcover (Forecasts, July 1). (Sept.)
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