Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides – Three Stars
I very much enjoyed reading Middlesex. I was very impressed with Eugenides’ writing style, his imagination and the research to support so many interesting tidbits about everything.
Others have noted that it started slow and ended fast; for me, the start was great, pacing was fine. Yet, I might agree that the last 100 pages (what IS it with me and the last 100 pages?!) felt like a downhill freestyle race to a final conclusion.
Just how, I kept wondering, how was Milt going to take the news that his daughter was no longer? oh, ok. THAT was handled conveniently. And was one of my favorite passages, actually.
…, the Cadillac swooped upward and leveled itself. Milton was surprised but very pleased. He didn’t remember the salesman’s having mentioned anything about a flight feature. Even better, Milton hadn’t paid extra for it…. “Now, this is what I all an Air-Ride.”, he said to himself.
I laughed a lot, I was riveted and at the same time almost scared to read on (ie, the scene in the cabin. I would not want to be 14 again.) I turned down many a page: defining how emotions can’t be covered by single words, the metaphor of love as a sacrophagus lid, yet another reference to Anna Karenina. I was enthralled with the descriptions of Lefty’s time in the Ford manufacturing plant.
Above their bent heads, huge spindles pound steam-powered fists. No one says a word. Wierzbicki reams a bearing and Stephanides grinds a bearing and O’Malley attaches a bearing to a camshaft. The camshaft circles around the floor until a hand reaches up to take it down and attach it to the engine block, growing increasingly eccentric now with swooshes of pipe and the plumage of fan blades. Wierzbicki reams a bearing and Stephanides grinds a bearing and O’Malley attaches a bearing to a camshaft.
This book gave me all the things I really enjoy in a novel: great use of words, descriptive language, interesting –fascinating! – characters, consistency. I was emotionally invested.
Having mentioned consistency, I have a few ‘excepts’… I loved how Desdemona’s hypochondria never killed her and how her fear of technology kept giving her reasons for that fear: that Air-Ride feature swallowing her in the her passenger seat of the car. I did NOT love the nagging question of just how old could Dr. Philobosian be? (that was a distraction; even though this question was answered, I missed it.) Also, for all the questions and explanation early on for all that Dr. Luce knew about the family, I’m questioning whether or not Cal ever went back and met with him again.
So it’s time to add The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides to my tbr list. I’ve seen the movie; it, too, is an uncomfortable and disturbing idea yet beautifully expressed. Looks like, if and when, Mr. JE publishes his next novel, it will be awhile anyway.