Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME


Middlesex. I put off reading this book for so long because I thought it would be hard. It just sounds hard. And looks hard. But since the College Students group on Goodreads was reading it and Michael Kindness at Books on the Nightstand was reading it this seemed like my chance. I put it off until the last month in July and with gritted teeth I opened up the book. I read the first few pages and I was immediately captivated by Calliope's story. Calliope, a girl, becomes Cal, a boy, in these pages and somehow the character stays somewhat the same throughout the book. The book starts with Calliope's grandparents in a tiny Greek village. I must say here that the book starts with incest, and I gather from the forum on Goodreads that this really freaks some people out. It didn't bother me, although it is weird, and I think the book is worth reading even if you're weirded out in the beginning. The book moves from Greece to Detroit, which is where Calliope grows up as a girl.

This passage took my breath away and it's on page 20 of the book. My hope is that you will read this passage and it will make up for all the stumbling I'm going to do about this book. I hope you will read this passage, leave your house and get this book immediately, all because of this passage.

And so now, having been born, I'm going to rewind the film, so that my pink blanket flies off, my crib scoots across the floor as my umbilical cord reattaches, and I cry out as I'm sucked back between my mother's legs. She gets really fat again. Then back some more as a spoon stops swinging and a thermometer goes back into its velvet case. Sputnik chases its rocket trail back to the launching pad and polio stalks the land. There's a quick shot of my father as a twenty-year-old clarinetist, playing an Artie Shaw number into the phone, and then he's in church, age eight, being scandalized by the price of candles; and next my grandfather is untaping his first U.S. dollar bill over a cash register in 1931. Then we're out of American completely; we're in the middle of the ocean, the sound track sounding funny in reverse. A steamship appears, and up on a deck a lifeboat is curiously rocking; but then the boat docks, stern first, and we're up on dry land again, where the film unspoolls, back at the beginning...

Yes my friends, Eugenides just successfully described time backwards. Be amazed. This is one of the few books I've ever read that I wanted to read slowly just because it cut such a huge hole out of me I had to experience every little bit completely. This book covers the experience of three generations of Greek-Americans just to explain the experience of one person. One person who didn't fit the mold, but as we read about her we realize that no one really does. And that gender is just one part of a person and that we're all actually kind of messed up and don't fit.

I just don't know what to say to make you read this book. Just know that when I was finished I couldn't breathe, and when I was finished I wanted to read it again, and before I was even done with the book I knew it was in my top ten favorite books of all time. Just know that, and experience it for yourself.

I give this book an outstanding A.

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Middlesex + TIME