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Eugenides, Jeffrey. Book - 2002 Fiction / Eugenides, Jeffrey None on shelf 4 requests on 1 copy Community Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Fiction / Eugenides, Jeffrey 4-week checkout Due 07-23-2024


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Middlesex - Beware Spoilers submitted by jaegerla on January 18, 2011, 6:41pm Middlesex is a phenomenal story that touches on many poignant subjects, including immigration, incest, mythology, war, capitalism, religion, sexuality, fate, coincidence, and so much more. The structure of all of these elements are contained in the story of Detroit itself. Each character represents different internal struggles: There is Desdemona who finds no better place for her orthodox Christian values than in the American Islamic faith. Then you have the confused politics of Marius Grimes, who believes in equality for all people but caves to the blood lust of the Detroit Riots of 1967. Cal himself comes to represent the metamorphosis of 20th century Detroit.

Cal was predicted to be a boy but happily surprised his family when born a female phenom. This is similar to the first cultural surge of Detroit when what was originally conceived as a valuable port system boomed with the introduction of the auto industry. As people rejoiced in Cal’s feminine traits, the city of Detroit explored new possibilities in the fields of architecture, art, and music.

Cal went through the years of her happy childhood while the D flourished through an era of creativity and strong economy. However, with the onset of puberty and sexual urges Cal’s girlish features began to blur into androgyny. Our heroine is shrouded in confusion as her family grew puzzled with the changes her body and attitude take. She becomes more angular, jaunty, hairy as well as increasingly self-focused, reclusive, and phenomenally shy. This shift takes place as the racial disputes of the city became increasingly heated, which then alters the lay-out of the city and its workers in decades to come. As part of this changing community the Stephanides family moves to Grosse Pointe as many others fled Detroit, and in this new physical location Calliope begins her transition into Cal through her sexual experimentation with her neighborhood friend.

Her family members can no longer deny that Calliope is going through an unexpected developmental stage. Experts were consulted, doctors visited, and traditional remedies sought. This mirrors how in the time period following the economic and population shift of Detroit, its citizens were forced to consider what was happening to their city; what was their beautiful, artistic area to become? Experts were consulted, politicians visited, and new business ventures were sought.

However, the physical changes of Calliope and the City were both undeniable as well as unstoppable. In the midst of the change both fell into ruin (as the city was plagued with crime and Cal fell into poverty) but eventually rose transformed into something brand new and equally wonderful, dare I say, phenomenal.

As Cal takes his place to guard the family’s home from his father’s wandering ghost, so is this now the time for the City to protect itself from the mistakes of its past and accept that it must transform to survive.

Nice author/Good Book submitted by taylor97 on July 28, 2011, 11:01pm I met this author at the 826 fundraiser dinner a few months ago. I had never heard of the author or the book. People during the event raved about the book. They were not wrong. Really good book, well worth the read!!!

This book rocks submitted by meliskim on August 2, 2011, 6:53pm my socks off. : )

American Novel submitted by on July 13, 2012, 4:37pm Looking for the American Novel? This is it! A great story of many generations, that everyone will be able to relate to in at least one way. A great semi historical novel, with great coverage of Detroit.

Historical Fiction submitted by subeth on July 25, 2012, 9:05am The writing is compelling and the story is fascinating. This is a real page-turner. The history woven throughout the story tells of the cities, Smyrna and Detroit, both going down in flames. The family has its own difficult history with secrets, losses,and then later, truth revealed. Every bit of this book is beautifully written and it ties together at the end in a believable and poignant present/future.

Highly recommended submitted by Jen Chapin-Smith on August 22, 2012, 12:00pm A fascinating story told from the perspective of an intersex person growing up in Michigan in the 1950s and 1960s, this book tells not just about transphobia, sexism and homophobia, but about racism, prejudice against Eastern European immigrants and those who are not Protestant. This is one of the few fiction books I have ever found about intersex people (those who are born without "clear" male or female body parts at birth but whom doctors usually assign a gender). The novel does contain some scary and violent scenes that are, rightfully, disturbing. I highly recommend it!

love the writing style... but I just can't get through it! submitted by allysonpurple on August 7, 2014, 3:59pm The narrative style is great-- enough detail to let your imagination run and really imagine the social situations he describes. It's long, though.... so if you're a slow reader, be prepared to carve out some time to get through this!

liked it a lot submitted by grubbg on June 14, 2015, 2:11pm I liked this book a lot. A rarely treated subject.

AMAZING submitted by emaelshaikh on August 31, 2016, 12:29pm One of the best books I have ever read. I lugged this massive thing around for a few days, missing bus stops and other important things, because I was so enthralled in its incredibly rich, precise, and absorbing narrative over generations.

Family Saga submitted by Meginator on August 6, 2017, 2:07pm Middlesex is one of those books whose greatness is subtle, the result of a combination of many factors rather than any particular aspect of its contents. The writing is smooth and the story is utterly compelling, covering three generations of an immigrant family in the greater Detroit area. The writing has a touch of whimsicality about it, as in Eugenides's hesitance to provide proper names for some of his characters, but not to its detriment; this kind of thing normally drives me nuts, but here it adds to the mythos. The narrative itself touches on several pivotal events in the family's history, from fleeing a genocide to Prohibition-era bootlegging activities to the Detroit riots and, finally, Cal's pivotal moment of self-realization. The characters are memorable and their lives form a miniature vision of the American dream, complicated somewhat by reality. Middlesex is a very good book, perhaps surprisingly so, and is worth returning to to tease out its many nuances.

Fantastic read based in Detroit! submitted by ann_arbor on July 8, 2018, 7:34pm Fantastic book! It's wonderful that it covers an immense time frame of the history of Detroit.

Loved it. Recommend it to everyone. submitted by EJZ on July 21, 2018, 1:40pm Just a great read. This is a beautifully-written yarn that winds its way through multiple generations. Middlesex is modern and yet classic at the same time, and has all the things I look for in a winter read - an engaging plot, a three-dimensional cast of characters, and tight prose.

Overhyped submitted by lstorc on August 28, 2018, 6:24pm I have no doubt that this is a very good book. It just didn't live up to the hype, primarily because the pacing left continuity.

Great submitted by crp on August 3, 2019, 9:56pm Read Devil in the White City first, then this, for 2 very different historical fiction Trips!

Really good story, a little too long submitted by 21621031390949 on June 24, 2020, 2:47pm I just re-read this book, having first read it - and loved it - several years ago. In general, I think the book holds up in second reading, but it is a bit dated now. It is certainly not the groundbreaking story it was at first publication. As a cis-gender female, I’d be interested in a LGBTQI perspective on its accuracy/reality about the gender issues expressed in the book.

I particularly loved the parts of the book about Greece and Desdemona and Lefty’s years in Detroit, and I do think Eugenides is a fun writer to read. That said, however, I think there should be a rule that fiction not go past 450 pages. Five hundred+ pages is just too long, and I inevitably begin to tire of the story and characters in the mid-400 pages.

epic family saga framed in a personal memoir submitted by apknapp on August 13, 2020, 9:52am Great writing; the author manages to seamlessly weave generations of family history together with the narrator's own personal journey, while handling the thorniest aspects of human sexuality with care and empathy.

Cover image for Middlesex

New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002.
Year Published: 2002
Description: 529 p.
Language: English
Format: Book


Greek Americans -- Fiction.
City and town life -- Fiction.
Suburban life -- Fiction.
Michigan -- Fiction.
Detroit (Mich.) -- Fiction.