04 July 2008


Paul Simon wrote, "Everyone loves the sound of a train in the distance. " I love the sound of a calliope in the distance. Middlesex is, essentially, the song ("sing, O Muse") of Calliope, Callie, Cal - a person whose physiology and psychology are as asymmetrical as a constellation, and as real, and as distant from everyday reality as the lives of the ancients who observed her as she wrote above them in the night sky.

Constellations are arbitrary lines drawn in the sky to create pictures that we can understand - images of mythic stories that tell us as more about ourselves than CT scans ever could. Eugenides's story plays with the lines that we draw to outline and define gender, and shows us that they are unnecessarily limiting.

Eugenides is such a virtuoso writer that his prose sometimes distracts me, but that is not a complaint. I love this book. I'll say no more.


Allow me to share a line that made me laugh immoderately. Describing some of the people in San Francisco:
  • Like Mamet characters, they populated an America that never existed, a kid's idea of sharpies and hucksters and underworld life.


Jennifer said...

Yet another book that I've wanted to read, but never gotten around too! :-)

sunt_lacrimae_rerum said...

It is a fascinating book--I loved it. Exquisite writing combined with a fascinating plot---it can't get any better than that, can it?

OfTroy said...

Loved the book, and loved the topic, and loved the authors name..

greek, i would guess, starting with eu (good)
gen a root word for seed/begining--related words:
germ, genises, genitals, gestation,
ides(could be related to eido (way, process, idea)
so he is Mr good genes process..(so totally like Cal's genetic heratige!

Paula said...

Oh I need to read that book!

Table Talk said...

This was one of the great reads of whatever year it was that it first came out. I've enjoyed Eugenides other works, but there's been nothing to touch this.

Marji said...

Me too, I absolutely rate this up there with my favorite books. And I'm so glad you liked it, because I proposed it for the reading group, and believe it or not, you're always one of the people I worry about liking it, or not. (how's that for a badly written, run-on sentence?)