Thursday, January 29, 2009

What am I reading?

I just started reading "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides. I'm probably one of the last people on the planet to read it, since it was an Oprah's Book Club selection a few years ago, but I am just now getting around to it. I'll give Oprah some props here - she picked some really good books for her book club. Some of the books I picked up because she had selected them have become some of my favorite books - like "She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb. Probably one of my all-time favorite books. Some of her choices just weren't my cup of tea, but most of the time, she selected good to great books.

So far, "Middlesex" is no exception. I'm not very far into it, but as I was reading last night, I wished I wasn't so tired, so I could keep reading. It's definitely captivating. So far, I'd recommend it wholeheartedly.

Here's the premise, if you're unfamiliar:

"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.



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