middlesex

Although Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex is epic in terms of breadth and scope with its detailed descriptions and lengthy buildup, I was ultimately left disappointed. The opening is deceiving—this isn’t a story about Cal/Callie; it is a story about his ancestry. It’s a good read, don’t get me wrong—I enjoyed the characters and storylines enough to read the book completely through. I was just expecting more about Cal’s decision to live as a man and the final section of the book. I appreciate the meticulous historical references and I understand how learning about Cal’s parents and grandparents resulted in his genetic condition, also the nature-versus-nurture aspect of life—personalities and temperaments, etc. I felt much of the book became bogged down by the author’s verbosity. Sometimes I found myself counting the pages left until the next chapter. Not that the writing or the stories are bad—just very lengthy. Some generational “circle-of-life” connections were a bit obvious. Lots of explaining and describing, making many pivotal plot points less affecting, especially the final “family-secret reveal” climax. That was the moment, 500+ pages in, where the story really could have started becoming more satisfying for me. I would have loved to learn more about Cal’s lifestyle starting at his late teens, right where the book ends.

Read from March 9 to April 8, 2012.