I just recently finished and wanted to spend a little time and a few words talking about the book Middlesex. This book is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning Jeffrey Eugenides.
I will start off by saying that this is not the standard type of book that I read. I am more into fantasy, some sci-fi, lots of contemporary supernatural fiction where the laws of physics or the standards of evolution we accept in our everyday lives apply. This book has none of those elements in it, no witchcraft or wizardry, no spells, no magic of any kind really. No preternatural good or bad guys. No undead anything. Nothing like that at all. And yet at the end of the book I was so captured by the authors writing that none of those things mattered.
The story is really kind of out there (for me) in the first place, not really touching any particular point of interest that would draw me in like the aforementioned list of what I normally read that also includes murder mysteries and gaming comics.
Before I go further I need to preface that my wife had read this book about a year ago and recommended it to me. When she told me the subject matter I was not very interested and moved on, forgetting what the book was about almost entirely by the time that I got around to reading it. When I finally decided to read the book it wasn’t because of the subject matter but rather more on the order of wanting to read something my wife had recommended to me. Since we almost never read the same material I thought this was an opportunity to share something special with my wife. It meant enough to her to suggest this book, something she hasn’t done that often. So I took a chance and opportunity not to just read a book my wife suggested but I made the choice to try to understand my wife a little better first-hand. I feel the better for having done so. It is good to step outside the comfort zone every now and again.
This book starts off by going back a couple of generations and takes place in a small village in Greece. Not so crazy right? Not very interesting either, not for me anyway. I continued on, not very enthusiastically albeit, but carried on none-the-less. I was going to finish the book one way or the other. That was my thinking when I first started reading the book.
As it turns out there are three books, sort of, contained within the book. There are and it makes sense the way the author did it the way he did because there really are three stories here with one overarching idea that they all work towards. Without any one of them the story fails. So on the rest of my talk.
So the first part (book) initially takes place in Greece and then makes its way to the US talking about 3rd cousins getting married and having a couple of children. It also explains that these 3rd cousins are also brother and sister.
This didn’t bring out the ick factor for me. Not the way the story unfolded and more importantly how it was told. Jeffrey has a style of writing that draws you in so that you are invested in the lives of the people the story is about. You root for all things to work out and in the end you are happy to have met some very interesting people. When I say that it is really true, Jeffrey has made individual so unique that they had to be real. Right? I thought so in any case. The story continues with the brother/sister husband/wife in America and how you would imagine they are able to cope with a new life in a new country.
The second book is more about the kids in the foreground the parents now a little more in the background. It does still deal quite a bit with the parents and so the kids don’t have as much face time alone in the book so you don’t get to know them as much.
The third book deals with the grandkids and more specifically who the author is writing about. Actually since the book is written in the first person from the perspective of the granddaughter, Calliope, it is the story of the author’s life. I know it is a little confusing. Let me try to un-tangle some of the threads. The book is written by the first person narrative of the adult Calliope “Cali”. She starts off by talking about her grandparents lives in Greece and there escape to America. She talks about her parents and how they seized upon the American dream and finally about how she discovered the truth about herself and how she went about becoming the person he is today. Yes I said HE.
Dotted throughout the book are current moments in the life of Cali working for the State Department, always off in a different part of the world every couple of years. More importantly it is how Cali is dealing with his unique set of circumstances.
It wraps up as you might hope it does. You feel nervous when Cali feels nervous and are drawn in to his life in a way that is hard to describe. You want for things to work out well for Cali and I believe they have in a way that we can all feel agree is hopeful.
I was purposely vague there in the hopes that I haven’t spoiled too much of this book for those that might want to some day read it. Currently my mom has the book. <Have you started it yet mom?> Jeffrey writes so well it is not surprising that he is a Pulitzer Prize winner. I was drawn in by how the author wrote more than what the content was about. Although that was really an interesting subject and story to come up with. Really imaginative, creative and inventive. I look forward to reading more of his work.
If you have a moment to read something truly well written I recommend Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
More to come…