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Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition era Detroit witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe Michigan To understand why Calliope is not like other girls she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction Lyrical and thrilling Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic


10 thoughts on “Middlesex

  1. says:

    I got off the bus from Bumbershoot around 1 AM exhausted Convinced that even the cars speeding past my window couldn’t keep me from this night’s rest I opened the door to a stench of exceptional vileness Not a dead stench or a spoiled food stench This was the stench of sewage From a spot in the center of the living room I surveyed the apartment and discovered the source the commode and the area around it were covered in yuck I dialed up the landlord The exchange went something like this “There’s shit on my floor” Why mince words?“What do you want me to do about it?” “I want you to fix my toilet so there won’t be shit on my floor”“Have you tried a plunger?” “What do you think?” “And that didn’t work?” After 20 minutes of this verbal badminton I realized the man wasn’t going to get out of bed without a signed act of congress He told me there was an all night Denny’s down the street should I need a toilet during the night So it was that at 2 AM after multiple rounds of cleaning and yakking I found myself seated in the kitchen on a kibble filled bucket a can of beer in one hand and Middlesex in the other“There was a place halfway between consciousness and unconsciousness where Tessie did her best thinking”I’d had two weeks to kill awaiting the arrival of all my worldly possessions Plenty of time to determine that the kibble bucket was ergonomically preferable to the floor or my sleeping bag With my front door situated not five feet from a four lane road and one block from a strip bar whose patrons seemed to enjoy loitering in front of my building the noise was like steel wool on my nerves which were already shot from a marathon cross country drive with three cats a dog and a friend who was hitching a ride to her father’s funeral in St Louis all crammed into my car With no job no friends no furniture and now apparently no plumbing this move was beginning to look like a profound error in judgment The story of a 5 Alpha Reductase Pseudohermaphrodite proved a likely escape “When you travel like I did vague about destination and with an open ended itinerary a holy seeming openness takes over your character”I’d only brought one book on my trip west Considerable thought went into the choice—it had to be an author with a proven ability to hold my interest It had to be long enough to cover the duration of the journey And it would need to stand up to multiple readings in the event of the delay of the moving truck or my inability to obtain a library card As a creative writing major I’d read The Virgin Suicides and marveled at the rotating first person narrative the subtlety of the prose and the fine edge between humor and poignance Middlesex seemed a safe betThe book was my constant companion After a day of fruitless job interviews I could go home to Callie Stephanides and her family safe in the knowledge that there were over 200 pages to go before I’d need to find a new distraction But the new distraction had already found me I hadn’t written anything longer than a grocery list in 8 years With all the time in the world and a good book as your muse aspirations can get pretty lofty “Even back then the Great Books were working on me silently urging me to pursue the most futile human dream of all the dream of writing a book worthy of joining their number”I won’t say that Middlesex turned me into a writer or anything lofty like that The first time I saw Singin’ in the Rain I nearly concussed myself trying run up a wall When I reached the last word I closed the book Waited five minutes Began again“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”