Monday, April 21, 2008

Finishing Middlesex

ep-ic -adjective
1. noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style: Homer's Iliad is an epic poem.
2. resembling or suggesting such poetry: an epic novel on the founding of the country.
3. heroic; majestic; impressively great: the epic events of the war.
4. of unusually great size or extent: a crime wave of epic proportions.

Maybe I should have gone chapter-by-chapter with this one, because now that I'm trying to decide where to start, the book just seems so big. It's a coming-of-age story; it's historical fiction about Greek immigrants, the Depression, the Detroit Race Riots; it's a story of incest, guilt, and family; it's a story about the awkwardness of adolecence; it's a story about what it means to be a girl, a boy, neither, and both. It's a wonderful story that spans three generations of the Stephanides family, and the decisions they make that shape their lives and the lives of their decendants.

I'll put my spoilers in GREEN, if you want to skip past.

First, let me begin with my MS Paint version of the Stephanides Family Tree. I didn't feel like going back into the book to try and figure out the older generations' names, so I just left them blank. I also know that Desdemona and Lefty were Third Cousins along with being brother and sister, but I didn't want to use the brain power to try and figure out how to depict that. You get the idea just from looking at my drawing that the family tree is a little... circular. A brother and sister marry, and their son marries his second cousin. Is it any suprise that their child has a rare genetic disorder: Calliope Stephanides is a 5-Alpha-Reductase Pseudohermaphrodite. While at first appearing to be female, Callie is genetically male. The condition goes undiagnosed and unnoticed until Callie reaches her early teen years, when she fails to develop as the other girls have, and she falls in love with another girl at her school. Eventually Callie learns the truth about herself, and changes from Callie to Cal.

Truly Middlesex is a remarkable book. Cal is a unique narrator, not just considering his unique genetics. I would highly recommend the book to anyone, it's a fascinating story. I could go on and on about it, but since no one else here has read it yet, I would only be writing it for myself.

I think the highest praise I can give Middlesex is that it instills in me a form of envy. This is the kind of book I wish I could write. Epic, Smart, Beautiful, and Moving.

No comments: