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Middlesex Paperback – Sep 23 2003
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"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974." And so begins Middlesex, the mesmerizing saga of a near-mythic Greek American family and the "roller-coaster ride of a single gene through time." The odd but utterly believable story of Cal Stephanides, and how this 41-year-old hermaphrodite was raised as Calliope, is at the tender heart of this long-awaited second novel from Jeffrey Eugenides, whose elegant and haunting 1993 debut, The Virgin Suicides, remains one of the finest first novels of recent memory.
Eugenides weaves together a kaleidoscopic narrative spanning 80 years of a stained family history, from a fateful incestuous union in a small town in early 1920s Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit; from the early days of Ford Motors to the heated 1967 race riots; from the tony suburbs of Grosse Pointe and a confusing, aching adolescent love story to modern-day Berlin. Eugenides's command of the narrative is astonishing. He balances Cal/Callie's shifting voices convincingly, spinning this strange and often unsettling story with intelligence, insight, and generous amounts of humor:
Emotions, in my experience aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in "sadness," "joy," or "regret." I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic traincar constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy." ... I'd like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well as for "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar." I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever.
When you get to the end of this splendorous book, when you suddenly realize that after hundreds of pages you have only a few more left to turn over, you'll experience a quick pang of regret knowing that your time with Cal is coming to a close, and you may even resist finishing it--putting it aside for an hour or two, or maybe overnight--just so that this wondrous, magical novel might never end. --Brad Thomas Parsons --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Middlesex is the perfect place to be on a blustery fall afternoon.
Was extrememly disappointed. Kept waiting for the story of Callie to develop. Was so waiting to get into her head! Felt no connection to her or any of the other characters. I wanted more insight on how it felt to be living in her body and mind.
The topic of Hermaphrodites is not a topic explored often and I think this could have been a great platform to do that.
Had a really hard time finishing the book.
As the narrator, Cal paints a vivid and fascinating picture of his family, much like someone slowly turning the pages of a scrapbook, describing each photo in detail, interrupting his history occasionally to bring us up to date on his current situation. His family experienced dramatic highs (the Turkish slaughter of Greeks, the Detroit riots) as well as ordinary days, and he describes them all with humor and matter-of-fact acceptance.
This is a very unusual and exceptionally well-written story. I did object to the narrator being able to recount conversations and actions he couldn't possibly have known about and think the story should have been written in the third person, but I found it riveting and was sorry when it ended. Highly recommended.
Most recent customer reviews
I haven't finished this book yet, but it's an interesting read so far. I'm gaining perspective on things that I don't have much knowledge about.Published 1 month ago by Angela
I bought the book because it was chosen by my book club. First of all, the subject matter is probably something I wouldn't have chosen for myself but it seems transgender is a hot... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Ame
This is a terrific story. I read it shortly after it was first published and thought it was primarily about gender. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael G. Francis