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Search tags: Jeffrey-Eugenides
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review 2018-04-04 05:59
Middlesex -- So much better than I had imagined
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

Edit: I've been thinking about this since, and I've come to the conclusion this book couldn't be written today (in 2018) while it seemed daring and real just a few years ago. There's more to that conversation, but I'm still judging this based on the time in which it was written. And I'm still very glad it was written and I got to read it.

 

Back to your previously scheduled program:

 

I was rather shocked at how good this is. I couldn't wrap my head about the blurbs. The idea of a book about an intersexual person sounded like it would be a political or medical diatribe, or possibly a whiny "poor me" tale falsely disguised as fiction. I realized Jeffrey Eugenides was not writing his personal story, but I did have the idea that this was still somehow a disguised bit of biography -- perhaps it is. If I was a real book reviewer, I'd have to look that up, but I'm not. No matter its origins, it doesn't read like any of these usually disguised things, and it's really very good.

Funny as could be, almost every line is quotable. This is more of an historical novel than just one person's story. It's a family story that is more vital to the man telling it than most. Cal née Calliope Stephanides is proof of a family secret in his very being. It will take a trip across the ocean at the end of the Greco-Turkish War and the accidents of love in the close-knit Detroit community for the secret to reveal itself through three generations of Stephanides. Even then Calliope is a child and hasn't been educated to the multitudinous ways genetics and gender (nevermind sexuality) can play out. So this is a very original coming-of-age story, a medical history, the story of forbidden love and much more in just over 500 pages of stunning prose.

Marvelously detailed, interesting and well-researched, with decent and realistic portrayals of all genders, from the roaring twenties through the twenty-first century, love and marriage, Detroit, and America/Americans broadly, Eugenides is a smart writer with a warm, welcoming voice. The word most likely to describe it would be "charming." While occasionally I got sniffy about some of the ease with which Cal seemed to make his decisions, it would have turned into a fake memoir if we went through every painstaking detail. He seemed a bit naive at times, then Eugenides would have him say something about his upbringing or family to remind me that he, in fact, was naive. Kids were much more naive in pre-internet days, or if not naive, often just plain confused or wrong. Cal is clearly not the type who would pour out his feelings anyway. When I know a character well enough to know why she does or doesn't do things, it's usually a good sign the writer has gotten his story and his characters under my skin.

I can see why Oprah picked Middlesex for her book club years ago. The voices are all supremely individual and Cal is a charming narrator, but Cal - while being the main character - is almost incidental to the overall story in some ways. I wish I'd read this with a group, because the discussion could go on forever. This is one of those books I knew I "should" read, and I didn't really have much interest. It didn't sound appealing, but I passed it on a shelf at the library last week and obviously picked it up. A different copy will find itself in my home soon, because I will certainly want to read it again and urge others to do the same. So, hey you - if you've not read it, take the leap. It's so much better than it sounds.

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review 2017-11-25 08:00
The Picture Of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde,Jeffrey Eugenides

A friend of mine told me about The Picture of Dorian Gray and she is quite a fan of it. I wanted to read it as well, to see if it really was as good as she said.

 

I enjoyed reading it. For me, it wasn't the best book I've ever read and there wasn't much surprise for me in it (my friend told me the story) but it was still interesting to read in my opinion. It took me quite some time to finish the book, but that hadn't to do with the story.

 

It was also the first book I read online (instead of on paper; it was a free read on GR and this was still before I had an eReader) so I had to get used to that as well.

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review 2017-11-24 01:17
Review: Fresh Complaint
Fresh Complaint: Stories - Jeffrey Eugenides

I have a complaint: Jeffrey Eugenides doesn't write enough.

Eugenides's first novel was published in 1993. Since then he's written two more novels and this, Fresh Complaint, his collection of short stories. There have been exactly nine years between each novel. So I was excited when, after reading his third novel in 2011, I read in an interview with Eugenides where he said he would not take the normal nine years to publish his next work (I tried to find that article, but was unable to do so). So it only took six years, but if this is the product of six years I am sorely disappointed and genuinely hope that it is not another nine years before the next novel.

That's not to say Fresh Complaint is a bad book. It isn't. There are some good stories in this collection. Also, there are some forgettable stories. The culmination of these creates just another “good” story collection. And being merely another “good” collection in an industry where there are many similar “good” collections means Fresh Complaint fails to stand out.

What's interesting about the stories in this collection is that they run the length of Eugenides' writing career, from 1988 to the present. I continually looked for growth or distinction between the stories from different eras, but what I discovered is that Eugenides is a consistent writer. His oldest works hold up to his newest. This is a huge compliment. All these are strong in character, language, and dialogue. He constructs such vivid and realistic stories. Strong, vivid, and realistic—these stories are not necessarily achingly beautiful, they do not transcend what we've come to expect from the short story. In fact, they're pretty average amongst the award-winning short story writers of the last century. Average isn't bad at all, but it's not great. Still,Fresh Complaint gave me a sampling of one of my favorite contemporary authors. Fingers are crossed that it's only three or four years until his next novel, but I'm not going to get my hopes up yet.

Personal favorites: “Fresh Complaint,” “Early Music,” and “Great Experiment.”

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review 2017-04-29 00:00
Middlesex
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides I love the style of writing this author uses. It's a little bit humorous and touching both without being too much of either. The entire story kept my attention. I didn't want to put it down to do real life things. So much of it was unexpected to me. It follows a family from Greece to America. The main character is intersex. She was thought to be a girl until puberty when her male side started showing more. There's so much knowledge here and so much made up story too. About everything not just about Cal. I really, really enjoyed it. Some subject matter may be off putting to some readers. It isn't supper graphic or obscene at all, but I don't think it's for everyone.
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review 2017-01-21 22:07
Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

 

 

 As part of the TBR Canine Jar Challenge, Middlesex was chosen by Enya. So far she's chosen The Exorcist which was a 5-star read and now Middlesex which I have to say I struggled with.

 

 

 

 

There is a lot of reading to this one. It's not that it's over-written per se, more that it's over told. It was hard work and I struggled to get through it. For every 100 pages read, it felt like 1000. The author kept going off on tangents, throwing in facts or history which weren't necessary. It was extremely annoying to have to wade through all this extra information while still keeping track of the narrative. It pulled me away from the characters and their stories every time. So much so, that I had to force myself not to skim these sections. It would have been a much faster and a more enjoyable read without the tangents and history lessons.

 

That being said, I did enjoy the storyline. When the author stuck to the characters and their stories it was an enjoyable read, but way too often it was interrupted by everything else. I wanted to read on to learn what happened to the family. I enjoyed getting to know each generation and seeing how their experiences were influenced by the generation before. Had the book concentrated on this and had all the other stuff removed, I would probably recommend it. As it is, It's not one I would recommend.

 

 

 

Reviews also posted to my blog: Scarlet's Web
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