joyfulleigh (joyfulleigh) wrote in thebookgroup,

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thoughts on Middlesex

Yeah, I know it's like two years late, but I just finished Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

There are things I loved about this book and things I disliked. Let me start by saying I don't think it was worth winning a Pulitzer Prize for. It was good but not amazing.

I loved the description of Turkey and Greece, of the historical implications of heritage on this family. I liked how the book switched from the present tense story of Cal and his budding interest in Julie, and the family story that made it so difficult for this romance to progress. I loved the narrator - I found him sympathetic the whole way through and something about his narrative made me forget I was reading fiction. I found the science interesting. I've never known an intersex or transgendered person, so it offered me a bit of a voyeuristic glimpse into a lifesyle I know very little about. Cal's stint in San Francisco made me cringe, though, perhaps because I've heard of the mistreatment that intersex people face and it made it so real for me.

I was annoyed by the fact that we never find out why Chapter Eleven is named such. I know the family ended up bankrupt and thought it might stem from there, but Cal calls his brother Chapter Eleven even as a child.... My main annoyance, however, was at the length of the book. I felt in places as if the prose were just dragging on needlessly. I think the book could have been 100 pages shorter and still accomplished the same level of impact.

On a totally unrelated note, this book introduced me to a poem I hadn't read before: "Pied Beauty". I am married to a very freckly Irish-American man, and appreciated very much the reference to "Glory be to God for dappled things..." :)

Do I recommend it? Sure. Perhaps not highly, but it's definitely worth a read.
Grade: B+

And by the way, what happened to this month's poll? Can we move forward, please?

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