There's a literary quiz, in multiple parts, over at Conversational Reading today. The only answer I knew right away was number seven from Famous First Lines:
I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.
And, honestly, I only know the quote because we covered it here. The rest of the quiz is a complete mystery, since I am not well-read. Rather than mourn my ignorance, I choose to believe I'm medium well-read. That is, warm and slightly pink in the middle.
Well, everyone, it's about that time again...
I don't know if I'm early or late to end the discussion on Middlesex--maybe I'm right on time?
Thank you all for reading or still reading and those who joined the discussion.
Not bad for my first one ;) .
It has officially begun, the discussion.
First of all, I want to apologize...I realized too late that Middlesex was 529 pages long and that this is February--the shortest month of the year. Now, for those of you who chose to read it and finished it or are in the finishing stages, allons-y!
I think that almost everyone had the notion, I certainly did, that Middlesex would be about what it is like to be a hermaphrodite. When I first read the reviews, I was discouraged to read it, the back of the summary too! It didn't sound like something I'd like to read. I'm not into the Odyssey that much...Anyway, I ended up choosing Middlesex because of the writer, Eugenides. I thought that would be enough.
Well, I thought right! Alas! Let's begin with Middlesex! I don't want to get into the plot in detail, arrrg, way to renascent and long...I want to bring up some points:
-Did anyone enjy the writing style? If yes, what in particular? What I was really drawn into was the way that Eugenides would return from a brief moment in Cal's forty-something year old life to the retelling of the past. It was done with such a natural ease.
I think that my favorite piece in his writing is the rhythm that was created on pages 95, 96, and 97, "Wierzbicki reams a bearing and Stephanides grinds a bearing and O'Malley attaches a bearing to a cramshaft."
Mmm...I found Eugenides very able to write as a man and as a woman, Cal and Callie. That was quite convincing, was it not?
-Did anyone enjoy/not enjoy the story itself? I don't really have an answer to why I enjoyed the story. I think the writing did it for me. Had it been written differently, I don't think I would've liked it as much.
If you did not enjoy the story, did you not find the writing itself taking you through the pages? Or did that not help at all...?
I think the story was filled with a lot of good elements: tragedy, graphic details, compassion, humor, innocence, tear-jerkers, techonology talk (hehe), meaningful, historical, and more, blah, blah, blah...
Something I must bring up, I loved how the transition of Cal's ending teenage years to his present life was omitted. :)
-Throughout Middlesex, we are told of truth-tellers or things that reflect the truth: silkworms and the comedy and tragedy cufflinks.
Personally, I was fascinated with the silkworms. They seem magical.
-The way that significant or important historical events played out to coincide with the Stephanides made their story significant and important as well. I really enjoyed that.
Very well, I am not competing with Eugenides here in writing an epic novel. I await your comments.
I'm on vacation and have Middlesex ready to go since I'm determined to read it this week (although I do have to get through the last few pages of Norwegian Wood, which, sadly, I find difficult to finish yet cannot say why). Middlesex caused a buzz when it came out and everyone was reading it, but I had no idea what it was about until I finally bought my copy and read the back cover.
This morning, I searched for reviews to see what others thought and came across one from Salon. It begins as one would expect, discussing Middlesex's central theme, then slides into how it "will inevitably be compared to Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections" although "the two works aren't all that similar." So why bring it up?
I am reminded why I gave up reading The New York Times Book Review. Besides the absurd decision to move away from literary fiction because "'the most compelling ideas tend to be in the non-fiction world'" (What? When was the last time you read a novel, buddy?), reviews seem to now be more about the reviewer than the reviewed. I've often been turned off when I've noticed subtle references to why the reviewer is a better writer, making me wonder if I'm being subliminally bombarded with "BUY MY BOOK" messages. I also have little interest in the well-read reviewer or how a particular work conjures up thoughts of Faulkner since the fact that you've read Faulkner impresses me not.
Please, just give me a plot summary and let me know if it's worth my time and effort.
welcome to the discussion of Middlesex. i hope that most of you have finished it, those who were planning on reading it.
haha, just kidding...
we'll kick off the discussion in the upcoming weeks.