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Critical Book Review: Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2003) - Essay Example

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Beginning at its immigrant roots to the present, the story takes readers from a Turkish village in the 1920s to the race riots of the late…
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Critical Book Review: Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2003)
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Critical Book Review: Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2003)

Relying heavily on the relationship between past and present, this historical novel uses strong historical imagination to attempt to try and piece together cause and effect, and the possibilities and problems as the narrator attempts to understand and represent both the familys past and future. This novel showcases Eugenides mastery of imagination as he weaves together the different aspects of this familys history presenting them in an eye opening coming of age tale perfectly fitting for todays modern age. The story does a great job of melding self-conscious artifice and real-world history.
Perhaps what is most surprising about Eugenides novel is how he effortlessly establishes the credibility in his narrator in the opening statement, " 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" (Eugenides 3). Here the narrator introduces himself and his sordid history, explaining his grandparents incestuous marriage and how they vowed to keep it a secret. The center of the story surrounds Cal and his struggles with his sexuality. He says, “I’ve got a male brain. But I was raised as a girl" (Eugenides). While Cal struggles with this dilemma his entire life, Eugenides fights to prove through these struggles that Cal is really no different than any other American teenager. The novel covers all of Cals childhood and adolescent obstacles in the hope of normalizing Cals very un-normal condition. What makes these descriptions interesting is that Cal does not provide any emotion, leaving it up to the reader to judge how Cal must have felt as a result. For instance, when Cal tells of his close encounter in the San Francisco park and how he is nearly raped, the descriptions are virtually devoid of any emotion. Cal says the men in the park tell him "Crawl back into the hole you came out of freak" (Eugenides), but the reader is ... Read More
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