I only rated the good reviews positively, but they seemed to be the only intelligent ones. I just bought more books than I can read this summer, but now I'll have to get this one to see what the ruckus is about. It sounds really interesting. The question, to those of you who didn't like the book, isn't has something like this been done before, but is this one done really well, and does it make you think?
I will not post a review since it's been quite a while since I read it. I had no problem with the subject matter, other than it was boringly presented and left me thinking, 'so what?' The reason I read it is my niece had given me 8 or 10 current best seller hardback books and I just love to read. Out of the 8 or so I chose to read, I disliked this one more than most of the others. Everybody has their own taste in books, I tend to be choosier than most. Definitely NOT a must read. If you haven't already done so, you may want to find a copy of one of Cormac McCarthy's books, that is if you like literature. Enjoy your books!
I agree. It wasn't bad, it held my interest, but in the end, I thought, "What's it got to do with me?" I think Eugenides made a mistake by making Cal's grandparents siblings. The author's implying (or that was my impression) that Cal was born a hermaphrodyte because his grandparents were siblings renders the message irrelevant to the rest of us (those of use whose grandparents weren't siblings, i.e., most of the human race). If that's the case, then a simplistic message that could be gleaned from Middlesex is: Don't have kids with your sibling, and the 99.9999% of us who don't do that, can all breathe a sigh of relief that our kids won't be hermaphrodytes. End of story.
If Eugenides was trying to educate about trans-genderism, what was incest doing in there?
I think the fact that Lefty and Desdemona were siblings served two important purposes: first, it explained Cal's sexual nature, but more importantly it fit with the novel's theme of biological vs. cultural influences, or perhaps more simply, what "should be" vs. what IS. The act of incest, as well as being a hermaphrodite, is seen as abnormal, and I think the author looks to blur and distort our pre-conceived notions of gender and love.
Also, I strongly disagree that the novel's message is rendered irrelevant simply because most of us do not have grandparents who are siblings, and that most of us cannot connect with Cal's experience. Isn't the beauty of literature its invitation into a world we have never before seen? Books like this should not alienate us, they should instead allow us to empathize with the characters and complicate our ideas about how the world works.
I see what you mean. I just meant that perhaps Cal's sexual nature could have been rendered more universal if the reader is led to realize, "This could be any of us, or one of my children", a la Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinstein (hope I got that author right).
Bringing in the incest just seemed to me to be introducing a superfluous variable into the equation.
I just read this book, and it's quite probable that none of the original contributors is monitoring this anymore, but in this particular case, the incest was the root cause of Cal's intersexuality. The intimation is that Lefty and Desdemona passed on a recessive gene to Milton, and that Sourmelina's ancestors, having come from the same village were probably also closely related, and thus that same gene that inhibits DHT and alpha five reductase was passed on to Tessie as well, and found its expression in Callie. The thing is that I DO fine cal's sexual nature to be universal, because no matter who we are, no matter what our junk looks like, we all go through the uncertainty, the attachment, the intensity of feeling, the exploration etc etc that Callie went through. I am not intersexual but i related to that character on a basic human level, and in that way I found it successfully universal.