And the gender-bending APRIL Book of the Month is....MIDDLESEX by Jeffrey Eugenides

(64 Posts)

MIDDLESEX has won our April poll (in a dead heat with SACRED COUNTRY, it narrowly scraped through by getting heads in a coin toss)

We'll be chatting about MIDDLESEX on Tuesday 28 April from 8pm to 10pm. Hope you can join us!

Don't forget you can order your copy here

And, for anyone who missed out on the vote here were April's book choices and this is how Book Club works.

stirlingstar Tue 28-Apr-09 21:15:07

Ah that's interesting Tilly. Overall I think the whole book is rather self-indulgent for the author: having Cal sat about in Berlin for no good reason other than that's where author is (don't really buy the 'divided city' thing - it's true, but author doesn't use it in any way), and spending pages and pages telling us about his research in to genetics, Greek-American history, Detroit in the 60s.

WibblyPigRocks Tue 28-Apr-09 21:15:40

Although it was suggested that the brother had feelings for a while (the way he sought prostitutes and thought of his sister), I do think their relationship only progressed to marriage because of their exile. As Carrie said, they created their own truth because the situation allowed them to. Had they stayed at home, I think the tension may have led to a sexual relationship but perhaps not an enduring one.

stirlingstar - you're totally right about the pace of the book. I also felt the final chapters were very rushed and that Cal didn't really deal with his father's death at all. As readers, Cal has encouraged us to relate to his father and yet he just seems to throw in his death, with the bizarre death sequence, at the end.

I didn't realise so much of his own background features in the book, makes sense really as it's easier to write rather than research a whole new area. Interesting that in the interview he says Cal looks like him too.

Has anyone read his other book The Virgin Suicides? Interested to know what that's like. I'm sure it was a film / serialised on TV.

WibblyPigRocks Tue 28-Apr-09 21:19:59

I think that Berlin is rather self-indulgent as a setting but perhaps the Greek/American history/immigrant story is utilised a bit more - it does reflect the theme of being an outsider, of finding your way in society and gradually finding your place within it. If anything, I found the references to Greek literature more heavy-handed.

Yes yes, we get it - there's incest and hermaphroditism in Greek mythology and you know a lot about it and can write as though you are a Greek chorus - but it didn't really add anything to Cal's story or encourage the reader to consider the important themes in more depth.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-Apr-09 21:21:24

Anyone else want to know how someone who dropped out of school at 14 ended up in the job he was in? I would have been happy to read another 100 pages (having come this far) to bring cal's story up to date, as it were.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-Apr-09 21:23:07

Sorry haven't read Virgin Suicides, but it was quite a successful film directed by Sofia Coppola - haven't seen it tho - try not to do dead children...

The Virgin Suicides is absolutely ace. Quite, quite different to this book (although I did enjoy this too) - it is relatively short, very economical, perfectly formed. It is as if everything is done in miniature, and it is so unusually narrated (the narrator is a group of boys who become obsessed by the sisters who are committing suicide - they are like an Ancient Greek chorus). It is a very bizarre, melancholy sort of story and yet doesn't come across as sad or freaky. I would definitely give it a try. It is a one-off, there is nothing like it.

I think Eugenides is still extremely talented and clever, even with the bagginess of the book and the rushed ending (which I agree, doesn't ring true and leaves you cheated). I was wondering if the editor tried to cut parts down and he refused, or if they didn't try.

stirlingstar Tue 28-Apr-09 21:28:00

I'm going to put the Virgin Suicides on my to-read list.

spiderinthebath Tue 28-Apr-09 21:34:13

Another half way through person here - I tried SO hard and didnt make it - the tenderness of the relationships I loved and actually the descriptive narratives too (although without them I may have finished it by now!) I am looking forward to the rest, must persevere...although May could be interesting and may get caught up in something else, thanks Tilly

Yes me too, sounds unusual. Good to hear it's short, that suits me as most of the time I fall asleep over my book. Not the book's fault, just too tired in the evenings.

WibblyPigRocks Tue 28-Apr-09 21:49:15

Yes, I would have been quite happy to read a bit more - I was quite engrossed in the characters, although I do wish I cared about them a bit more.

Anyway, I did enjoy reading it and definitely enjoyed chatting about it tonight. Thanks, ladies!! x

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 28-Apr-09 21:50:25

I can just about manage the Mumsnet book of the month - other than that don't really have a to-read list! But really enjoying the book club and someone else choosing a book that I otherwise wouldn't read - and have so far enjoyed them all so well done Tilly and thanks all for voting and taking part.

Dh home and dinner ready so will sign off - but thanks again for tonight and see you next month

Here we are: May Book of the Month selection is up and ready for your vote - quite a lot of American writers on this list too.

I am about to go back and read the bits I skimmed - thanks all for a great night and hope to see you next time (May's chat will be Tues 2 June)

Thanks Tilly! Looking forward to reading the next one once I've ploughed thru the rest of Middlesex see you next month.

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