Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex

Middlesex Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Middlesex is a fictional novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. It is essentially an autobiography of Cal Stephanides, born Calliope Stephanides; that is, it is a tale of his birth and raising as a female, and then rebirth as a male. It is broken up into 4 “books” (and believe me, being the longest thing I’ve read in a long time, it felt like 4 books) in which his story is told.

The story opens with a history of Cal’s grandparents (a brother-sister coupling) and their upbringing in Europe. It follows with his parents (a cousin-cousin coupling) and their lives. And finally, near what felt like the end of the book, it gets onto the life of Cal. Although Cal is both the narrator and the protagonist, I felt that his spotlight in the novel was short, and was expecting more details to be shared from his later life. I also didn’t like how all the incestuous pairings were presented as the prelude to the birth of this technically intersex individual; I’m hoping this correlation (fictional and N=1) doesn’t translate into the beliefs of people in the real world. Overall though, I did enjoy the plot of the novel.

In terms of how the story was told, Eugenides painted the story beautifully. The whole time I was reading the novel, it felt as if I was watching a movie. His illustrating of each scene panned out as if it were a movie, and it made the book out to be quite an easy read (despite its epic length).

The characters were definitely interesting, and well-developed despite coming from very different lifestyles and time periods. I had issues buying everything in many of the characters, but some of their situations made it sort of difficult to completely imagine.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Eugenides’ Middlesex. Although I found it to be somewhat lengthy, I found the plot to be enjoyable, the characters to be well-developed, and the style to carry the reader through three generations of humanity across two continents.

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