Read from September 7th to December 7th 2016
It took me quite a lot to finish Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex (jeez, three months as I see from my Goodreads counter!), although it was not because it bored me, far from it, but because I chose to read it during my breaks at work and lately I didn’t have many L.
There were so many interesting things in this novel, covering some important aspects of any narrative, such as themes, structure, characters, styles and so on, and in each of them it could be found at least one such fresh approach that I honestly don’t know where to begin. Therefore I’ll begin with the beginning, with the title, that is.
Let’s see: Middlesex is the name of the street where the narrator grew up and metonymically of the house of her/ his parents in this street; it is the name of the book and metaphorically of the main theme in this book – intersexuality; significantly, for the author does not acknowledge autobiographical references, it is also the name of the street in Grosse Pointe where the latter grew up.
It seems to me that just from the beginning there is this swinging between notions, the first one, between reality and fiction (the real street and the physical book with its title versus the narrator’s street and the theme in the book), inviting others, this time within fiction: immigration/ American dream, nature/ nurture, male/ female, family/ incest, tragedy/ comedy and so on) with the key-word that reunites them: “middle”. The structure of the novel, looking like a DNA double spiral, follows a subtle dialectic that keeps deploying the plot and intertwining its two layers: Stephanides’ family saga on one hand and Callie’s arrested bildungsroman on the other hand. The pattern is carefully weaved on an obvious canvas of Greek mythology by a narrator who warns the reader in an exaggerated rhapsodic voice always tempered by soft postmodern irony (“Sorry if I get a little Homeric at times. That’s genetic, too.”) that the journey that follows is beyond the usual regressus ad uterum, for the discovery of the self truly begins with the genetic ancestry: