Join Jeffrey Eugenides to talk about our April Book of the Month, THE MARRIAGE PLOT, on Thurs 3 May, 9-10pm

(132 Posts)

'To start with, look at all the books'. So begins the very first sentence in our April Book of the Month, THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides. And books are everywhere in this novel: Victorian love stories, literary theories, philosophical tracts, holy scripture and all sorts of writing in between.

It is 1982, and three undergraduates are about to leave Brown University. Madeleine, an idealistic and romantic English Literature addict, is infatuated with Leonard, her mercurial and scientific boyfriend. Meanwhile, theology student Mitchell is convinced that he and Madeleine are destined to be together. Full of idealism and ideas, all three embark on a journey of discovery that reveals adult life is definitely no fairy tale - nor a classic Jane Austen novel.

THE MARRIAGE PLOT crammed with energy and intelligence; it makes you think big and bold. But more than that, it is funny, warm, tender and understanding. Eugenides' writing is seemingly effortless; it amuses and beguiles and thoroughly entertains. And it is full of those small, telling details that are perfect in their perception of human emotion, and in understanding the fallibility of human nature. A true modern classic.

You can find out more at our book of the month page, and read an interview with Eugenides here.

4th Estate have 50 copies of the book to give away to Mumsnetters. To claim yours, please go to the book of the month page and fill in your details.

We'll post on the thread when all the copies have been sent out but if you're not lucky enough to bag one of those, you can always get your paperback or Kindle version here.

We're delighted that Jeffrey Eugenides will be joining us to talk about THE MARRIAGE PLOT, and his other novels, on Thursday 3 May, 9-10pm.

Whether you've read this book, previous books, or just want to ask him how he started writing, come along and join in.

Meanwhile, do keep posting your thoughts and any advance questions on this thread.

Looking forward to it...

Abcinthia Wed 28-Mar-12 13:50:06

Done smile

NoraHelmer Wed 28-Mar-12 13:53:38

Me too smile

MayCanary Wed 28-Mar-12 14:05:10

Done! smile

juneybean Wed 28-Mar-12 19:27:28

Done smile

ladydepp Thu 29-Mar-12 12:42:23

Done, am I way too late hmm

Hullygully Thu 29-Mar-12 13:14:34

I love Jeffrey.

I already have and have read this.

And Middlesex is on my tip top list.

I love you Jeffrey! <waves to jeffrey>

Hullygully Thu 29-Mar-12 13:15:28

I do realise this isn't Middx, by the way. I was just exemplifying my great love and deep and abiding admiration for Jeffrey

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 29-Mar-12 13:33:30

Hullygully

I love Jeffrey.

I already have and have read this.

And Middlesex is on my tip top list.

I love you Jeffrey! <waves to jeffrey>

Great to hear this Hully. And for anyone who's just joined this thread, there are still copies of The Marriage Plot left, so do apply asap.

Heyyyho Thu 29-Mar-12 14:03:42

done!

BartletForAmerica Thu 29-Mar-12 14:32:38

Thank you. just applied for mine.

mum2jakie Thu 29-Mar-12 14:56:44

Just applied. Fingers crossed I'm in time! Hopefully everybody else is too busy sunbathing outside! ;)

LaVitaBellissima Thu 29-Mar-12 15:27:10

Me too, probably too late on this one though smile

sfxmum Thu 29-Mar-12 15:47:36

very exciting I so love the Lisbon sisters smile must get on and read this one, as I got it for Christmas

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 29-Mar-12 15:51:21

Just submitted. I am looking forward to tyhis, especially as hullygully appears to like him - she's a hard one to please, so must be good!

orangina Thu 29-Mar-12 15:58:06

Oh I am excited! I love his writing....

(marks place)

MamaMary Thu 29-Mar-12 16:07:59

I really enjoyed The Marriage Plot.

However I am currently in the middle of Middlesex and I'm finding it a total and utter drag

Looking forward to the discussion. smile

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 29-Mar-12 16:25:32

The fifty copies have now all gone. We'll be contacting those who have been lucky shortly and have sent over your details to Fourth Estate who will be sending the books out. If you've missed out this time, buy the hardback now, the kindle edition or pre-order the paperback now for 12 April.

Hullygully Thu 29-Mar-12 17:57:33

One person's hard to please is another person's discernment.

so ner

Camb79 Thu 29-Mar-12 18:45:31

This book redefined boredom; I kept waiting for it to acquire any depth of any kind but it just stayed on the surface the whole way through.

Had a feeling this one might divide everyone. I loved it, loved Virgin Suicides and Middlesex and think the man is a god. Other friends have written emails in CAPITAL LETTERS to tell me how disappointed they were.

Can't wait to hear what everyone thinks...

NoraHelmer Fri 30-Mar-12 08:34:16

This will be the first Jeffrey Eugenides novel for me.

yUMMYmUMMYb Fri 30-Mar-12 10:32:06

Yipee, i am getting a copy. Hope i love it, i really need a good book for a change.
Ps how do you pronounce his surname?

Bennifer Fri 30-Mar-12 10:40:32

Read it, absolutely brilliant (plus I'm going to spend two weeks at the university in the summer, where it's set)

SamsGoldilocks Fri 30-Mar-12 12:21:25

damn, i missed this yesterday - you threw me by starting it to early in the month

juneybean Fri 30-Mar-12 12:42:59

Virgin Suicides is on my to read list, but a friend read Middlesex and wasn't sure what to make of it. This one sounds interesting.

DarrowbyEightFive Fri 30-Mar-12 13:13:39

Ooh, the next meeting of my book club (discussing Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending) will be in the SAME ROOM where Jeffrey apparently wrote Middlesex (back room of a bar called Felsenkeller in Berlin). I would love to know if that rumour is true, or just being spread by the cafe's owners to increase literary trade.

dublinrose37 Fri 30-Mar-12 17:10:12

This will be my first time reading any of his books...looking forward to it [smile]

milly4564 Fri 30-Mar-12 20:47:39

Hi, I'm a newbie to the book club, but have already downloaded the book and have started reading, hooked already smile

Belo Mon 02-Apr-12 08:33:17

I loved Middlesex! I've often read the books for bookclub, but not once yet been able to join in the discussion. Will try and do this one.

How do I apply for one of the free books?

Belo Mon 02-Apr-12 08:55:30

Ignore previous question. Just re-read thread!

I have read Virgin Suicides and Middlesex. Loved both of them. Can't wait to read this.

dogindisguise Mon 02-Apr-12 19:23:50

I had this from the library and very much enjoyed it. It's a shame he only produces a novel once every nine years!

suzannened Wed 04-Apr-12 17:16:50

I loved Middlesex & have just finished The Marriage Plot. Now I need to read Virgin Suicides. Looking forward to the discussion

Cessj Wed 04-Apr-12 20:31:54

Liked Virgin Suicides....
Fell in love with Eugenides after reading Middlesex - what effortless but so layered writing. Have yet to read The Marriage Plot but its on my A......n wishlist waiting for DH to notice (thankfully he checks my wish list often) so hopefully will soon receive this.
Darrowbyeightfive...just finished reading Sense of an Ending...all I can say is that its a nice story with great turn of phrases and in many ways got the era spot on..but can't help feeling disappointed ..did I miss something...struggling to understand why it won the Booker???

hippy99 Thu 05-Apr-12 13:45:29

Still waiting for my copy to arrive. Can't wait to get started.

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Mon 09-Apr-12 17:25:36

Has anyone had their copy yet?

NoraHelmer Tue 10-Apr-12 07:58:08

Not here yet, but probably some time this week?

MsNorbury Tue 10-Apr-12 08:01:08

I'd like my copy too

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 10-Apr-12 11:21:23

We're just chasing to see when the books should arrive and will post up as soon as we hear back.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 10-Apr-12 12:06:25

Have just heard back from 4th Estate that the books have all been sent out so should be with you soon. Let us know when they start to arrive. Although it's a fairly lengthy novel it's v compelling, so you should still have time to read before Jeffrey joins us on May 3rd.

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Tue 10-Apr-12 12:23:17

Thanks Rachel, just finished my current book this morning, so looking forward to a new read smile

mumof4teens Fri 13-Apr-12 10:15:09

Just received my copy, thank you! grin

kandinskysgirl Fri 13-Apr-12 11:23:55

Just got mine...about to dive in now

NoraHelmer Fri 13-Apr-12 12:36:24

Mine arrived this morning, thank you. Good timing as I'm about to finish my current book smile

AlmaMartyr Fri 13-Apr-12 12:45:14

Mine arrived this morning just as I started packing for holiday. I'll look forward to reading it while I'm away.

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Fri 13-Apr-12 13:44:52

Woohoo - DP informs me that my copy has arrived, just in time as we go away tomorrow smile

yUMMYmUMMYb Fri 13-Apr-12 16:22:38

Got mine. Thanks :-)

Hope you're all enjoying the book. I just thought I'd remind everyone that the webcaht is on THURSDAY 3RD MAY, slightly different timings to our usual Tuesday.

And please feel free to discuss the book and put up questions in advance - it means we can pack a few more into our hour as the author has time to prepare and posts a bit quicker...

See you on 3rd May, can't wait. Very very thrilled about this one.

coni336 Mon 16-Apr-12 14:40:37

Got mine too, its soooo nice to receive a brand new book in the post!!

MayCanary Wed 18-Apr-12 12:13:49

Started it last night and think I am going to fall in the "like - love" camp. Already much better than last month's effort (imh0).

vezzie Fri 20-Apr-12 11:24:46

Is this the thread to put the questions for Mr Eugenides?

NoraHelmer Fri 20-Apr-12 18:55:13

It is, vezzie. You just post your question here and it gets passed to him prior to 3rd May.

kandinskysgirl Sat 21-Apr-12 10:01:59

I have just finished this.

<Spoiler alert>

I loved the ending..I thought the fact that the girl didn't have to end up with a boy after the ending of her marriage was quite a positive statement to women. I thought it sent a strong message that women are capable of being ok without having to be in a relationship.

I did like to think that after a while Madeleine and Mitchell would end up together but in a healthy way rather than rushing into it.

So my question is do you carry on the characters stories in your head or do they end for you when the book ends?

Abcinthia Sat 21-Apr-12 14:53:11

I just finished and I really enjoyed it.

In the book you mentioned many different authors and their work, so I was wondering which author(s) and/or novels inspired you the most to become an author yourself?

MayCanary Mon 23-Apr-12 14:29:14

Really enjoyed the book although it looked daunting at first glance. Thanks to your publishers for my copy.

You write very fondly (it seems) about P-town. Do you have connections with the area?

Thanks to everyone for your questions so far, just a reminder that I'll be sending advance q's to Mr Eugenides early next week, so do put them up here pronto.

I have far too many questions and am desperately trying to whittle down..

NoraHelmer Thu 26-Apr-12 09:41:48

I'm only half way through (long book grin) but I'm enjoying it. Not sure if I'm going to be finished in time to put a question to Mr Eugenides sad

juneau Thu 26-Apr-12 09:57:46

I'm really looking forward to reading this book - just ordered my copy. I thought Middlesex was great, so will watch this thread with interest.

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 26-Apr-12 13:14:03

I really enjoyed this book enormously, and i would never have chosen to read it. Thanks for the free copy, i will be heartily recommending to friends. My question is about the theme of mental health - how did you research this topic? Your writing makes scenes appear so vivid, i loved your style. I lived with a manic depressive flat-mate for 3 years and your descriptions were uncannily accurate and remindedme so much of that time in my life.

Definitely the best bookof 2012 for me.

SoTiredoftheWheelsontheBus Thu 26-Apr-12 14:32:35

Have just bought The Marriage Plot, but haven't started reading it yet. Just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed both The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex. I've read them both several times, so I was really pleased to hear that the author had a new book out.

RedBushedT Sun 29-Apr-12 21:40:58

Oh I'll have to get a copy!

NoraHelmer Mon 30-Apr-12 08:13:40

I finished reading it last night. I loved it - one of the best books I've read in a very long time smile. I would never have thought that manic depression could be such a fascinating subject. I really felt for Leonard and his suffering. I had an aunt who was a manic depressive. She was a highly intelligent woman who lived a long and deeply unhappy life, attempting suicide several times, before finally dying of old age.

I'm sorry I have no question for Mr Eugenides but wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading the book.

MaryA74 Mon 30-Apr-12 14:11:15

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Bellstar Tue 01-May-12 13:34:15

Only bought the book today so have to get a move on if I want to join in on thursday!!

My question to the author is-

I looooooooooooved The virgin suicides-I read an excerpt in Cosmoblush when I was a young teen and ran straight out to buy it!!

But...I was disapointed in the film version? how did you feel about it? oh and if I am allowed to be cheeky and ask another question-why so long between books?<sobs>

NancyMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-May-12 11:02:55

Hi Jeffrey,

I've been a big fan of yours, ever since I got a copy of the Virgin Suicides when I was a teenager, and then when I picked Middlesex up a few years later, I couldn't put it down.

The Marriage Plot was TERRIFIC - oh my god!! I was gushing about it to everyone from about the first chapter on, and I couldn't put it down. I even found myself deliberately slowing myself from finishing it took quickly. I'm actually looking forward to re-reading it again. I don't think I ever related so much to each character individually before. What a joy it was to read. Thank you.

My question is that I've noticed that between all three of your books - Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, Marriage Plot - there's a theme of emerging teenage sexuality, confusion and subverted desire, particularly within young women (though this was obviously across more of a spectrum in Middlesex.)

Was this always an interest of yours - have you studied it? Obviously the Greek myth of Oedipus, with the themes of sex, desire, incest, forbidden and blindness appears in Middlesex, between Calliope and the Obscure Object in particular, but have you had any other education in the field? What draws you to writing about this?

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Wed 02-May-12 12:03:26

Almost finished - about 20 pages to go, but I'm loving the book I'm finding really hard to put it down it's just a pity DD, and work get in the way of reading it. smile

IamtheSnorkMaiden Wed 02-May-12 13:45:38

Poo, I always miss these things.

Lurve Jeffrey very much!!! I will be suggesting The Marriage Plot to my reading group smile
yUMMY - I think it's You-gene-uh-dees. Or You-gen-uh-dees.

Teaddict Wed 02-May-12 14:05:37

Hi Jeffrey
I am a brand new fan as I have to admit I hadn't heard of you before! (Well that's what happens when you inherit your reading material from a sister)
I am really enjoying The Marriage Plot and will definitely get your other two books to read next.

Two quick and easy questions as I'm struggling with the americanisms... What are "wingtips" as in "he wore wingtips without socks" also what are "de Kooning" teeth?

Thanks

minimuffin Wed 02-May-12 14:46:31

I haven't read The Marriage Plot or the Virgin Suicides, though I bought them both immediately after reading Middlesex earlier this year. The best-written novel I have read for a long, long time and one that I looked forward to wallowing in at the end of every day whilst I was reading it. As a family saga I loved it. Middlesex has particular resonance for me though as my eldest son was born with the same condition as Cal, although thanks to immediate diagnosis and a very skilled surgeon he will thankfully not face the same issues as Cal. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to read the book as I knew it would hit all kinds of nerves, and I did find parts upsetting and difficult to read, obviously, but I wanted to try to get as many perspectives as possible on the condition so that I can try to support my son as best I can as he grows up and begins to understand what happened to him. The book made me realise that in days gone by he would probably have been labelled as and lived as a hermaphrodite. I hadn't quite realised that and it sent me into a tailspin for a long time after reading it.... but it was beautifully and sympathetically written. I loved how it normalised everything - by the end of the novel you barely even remembered that the grandparents were brother and sister, their situation was so normal, so everyday, they were so much a product of their generation and surroundings that the most extraordinary thing about them was almost forgotten. The same was true of Cal to a degree - she (then he) was just a normal teen dealing with normal teen stuff until reality intervened but you felt you knew and liked him so much by the time of realisation that all that mattered was how he dealt with it. Whether he'd chosen to continue living as a woman or to do what he did and embrace being male, it didn't really matter. All that mattered was that he was OK. I loved the book. What I wanted to know as I read it though was, how on earth did you decide to write about this subject? I can't believe I now have the chance to ask you!

Also, is the reason you have had long intervals between novels due in part to the amount of research you do? You had obviously done extensive research into the subject of Middlesex. I haven't read your other novels so I don't know if they are as rooted in specific subjects, but if so, how do you pick your subject matter? Does inspiration strike unexpectedly from something you read or an anecdote you hear? Or do you set out in search of a subject when you are ready to work on a new novel?

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-May-12 18:27:49

I can't believe I'm missing this discussion. I loved Middlesex and think I loved this one even more. I even sat down to read when the kids were still up to finish it...I can't tell you how rare that is...probably never happened before, the children were a bit stunned smile. I also couldn't wait to give it to my best friend but now I've passed it on feel a little bereft. I'm slightly embarrassed as an English grad that I (apparently) missed lots of literary references/parallels - I was too wound up in the characters/plot (never really did that well in literary theory when I studied English either, so it was interesting to revisit that in the book). Did you sit down to write a novel full of literary references/parallels or did you have the story in your head and the refs came naturally as you went along? Or are all those folks spotting literary refs wrong and it's just a jolly good read after allsmile
Again sorry to miss you and thanks for coming on MN. Really looking forward to your next book so do crack on won't you grin

vezzie Wed 02-May-12 22:11:56

Hi Jeffrey,
Thank you for coming to Mumsnet.
If The Marriage Plot presents an implicit dichotomy between theory and common sense, why did you decide to associate the common sense side so strongly with the female point of view? I found this disturbing as the theory is so simplistically dismissed and the "female" point of view so silly in places. (Have you read - I am sure you have - Mating by Norman Rush? A work of genius by a man writing in 1st person as a woman which is subtle and profound without being intellectual or tricksy, or any of the things you seem to accuse "intellectuals" of being in this book)
In fact it struck me as generally a problematically conservative book, not in a good way; did you mean to write such a conservative book? Is it deliberately conservative, or is it supposed to be somehow drawing out the problems with, for instance, sympathising with a rich white girl as opposed to a mentally ill boy from a difficult background?
What about when the girl gets raped, and apparently enjoys it (I think)? How do you feel about the problems in putting across such a conservative point of view about female sexuality, when you are not a woman? Do you feel a particular responsibility in this respect, writing so much indirect first person as a woman and projecting such apparently unexamined cliche about "female reality"? I would have expected so, after the more explorative writing about gender in Middlesex, but I was disappointed by how little evidence of this there was. How do you feel about the responsibility implicit in writing "as" a member of an underrepresented group, in a genre (the novel) which historically has been one of the few in which the occasional woman has been allowed to express the originality, fullness and complexity of female existence?

vezzie Thu 03-May-12 09:29:50

Btw all the questions above are not intended from a political / ethical point of view because a novel is not a political tract. It's about what I enjoy reading and about how the experience of the novel is weakened for me by over simplification, etc. And for me, particularly, oversimplification about What Women Want. Why not have a central male character who just wants the moody anti-hero, quite enjoys being raped, thinks theory is a load of sillu rubbish for pretentious people and has shelves full of books about people getting married? (unfair point of comparison: every single one of those name checked in the book, as far as I remember, is a work of towering genius that knocks this out of the park - why mention them? - I don't go looking for models to be photographed next to) That book I might have found less annoying.
Disclaimer: one of my favourite novels is money which I am re-reading now and it is so so so very suspect in so many ways if you want to be po-faced about it, but it is so cracklingly brilliantly subtly written that there is a depth to the attitudes in it that go beyond the apparent hateyness.

vezzie Thu 03-May-12 09:30:29

Or maybe my question is [peers over glasses]: Mr Eugenides, did you mean to be so rude?

A quick reminder that even if you haven't read/finished the Marriage Plot, do feel free to join in the discussion tonight to ask Mr Eugenides about his other novels, his writing life, anything you like...

Thank you to all those above for putting their excellent questions forward - we'll kick off with those. And sorry to those who can't make it, hope you get the chance to look at the chat afterwards.

Looking forward to tonight immensely, see you at 9pm sharp.

typicalvirgo Thu 03-May-12 14:11:55

Hello jeffrey.

I thought I'd better add something now just in case I can't get to the live discussion.

I think I am in the minority camp here in that I really struggled to get into the book, especially the first part. I have a pet hate of the education system in America and how competitive it seems to be... I get a bit bored about listening to how successful a person is and what school they went to, what qualifications they got in kindergarten, how many scholarships they got before they were 10, its a bit meh... and I say this with relatives that live in California (infact they are both academics at Stamford so you probably know the type grin ).

I must admit the second and subsequent parts were much better. The subject of bipolar was written really well and gave I think a really good representation of life with this illness. I iused to work with a young man who was in the process of being diagnosed in his early 20's and his characteristics and traits were all there.

And so my question is what interested you in MH issues and how did you do your research ?

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 15:19:10

sfxmum

very exciting I so love the Lisbon sisters smile must get on and read this one, as I got it for Christmas

vvvvvvv

kittybam Thu 03-May-12 17:08:04

Hi! I read the Marriage Plot and liked it. I have two questions for the author which he may or may not answer. Why is Mitchell Grammaticus, the Greek "hero" called Grammaticus? Is this a reference to Grammar or to a book? Also I've read Middlesex. To me the part that resonated was not about sexuality but ethnic identity. Cal was brought up as American but there is this deep undercurrent of his Greek identity, which cannot be denied and comes to the fore in adulthood and he is neither here nor there, but in the middle. Were you aware of this? It also made me read up on Smyrna and its history. Thanks for a very interesting read.

hippy99 Thu 03-May-12 18:43:27

Hi Jeffrey,
I really enjoyed this book although I did initially find it difficult to get into. I liked the way the same story was told from the perspective of different characters. This also enabled me to understand the manic depression theme from both the sufferers viewpoint and those people around them. It seems as an author you understood both sides is this purely from research? or do you know people personally who have or had MD?

kandinskysgirl Thu 03-May-12 19:31:43

Oh I just logged on thinking this had happened today and its happening later YAY I will be here.

minimuffin Thu 03-May-12 20:16:46

kittybam I agree with what you say about Middlesex being about ethnic identity as well. It was very much so, as well as a coming of age story, and a history lesson. When I said up the thread that I loved it as a family saga I thought afterwards that that sounded a bit trite as it is such a richly layered book. I found the various historical contexts fascinating - knew nothing about Smyrna or Detroit before I read that. The account of the immigrant experience sounds very true (though I haven't had that experience first hand I've lived abroad and know how alienating it can be) and the way that a strong cultural tie can be both comforting and suffocating at different times of life. But at the end of the day it could be the story of any family - a saga in the Norse sense - dig deep enough and someone before you will have made an epic journey to change their life, broken the law, fled a war zone, overcome horrendous hardship. Then you add decades of the chores of daily life, the smoothing, wearing effect of telling yourself and others how things are and the truth gets buried or left behind somehow. At the beginning of Middlesex I found the incest storyline pretty shocking - by the end Lefty and Desdemona are just like any other aging couple, worn out by life and clinging onto each other and you had almost forgotten who they were and what they did. They seemed at peace with it, but if their descendants uncovered the truth it would set off a bomb in all their lives. So true of so many families I'm sure.

Sorry not to have read the Marriage Plot, I stumbled on the book of the month too late, what an opportunity missed!

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 03-May-12 20:39:57

Anothrr question - as a pulitzer prize winner, what / who is the most important person for you to get recognition from for your writing?

Evening everyone

We've featured many great books this year, but I have to nail my colours to the mast, put aside my usual neutrality and say out loud that THE MARRIAGE PLOT has been my favourite so far. It might be because I studied English Literature, it might be because I was already a huge fan of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides. Or it might just be that this is (to me) the perfect combination of big, complex, philosophical ideas and small, vivid, psychologically spot-on detail. And funny, to boot.

So I am thrilled that Jeffrey Eugenides is here tonight to throw light on the inspiration and research behind his book, and to talk about his previous novels and his writing career.

I feel there is a huge amount to squeeze into an hour, so without further ado...

Jeffrey, firstly, thank you very much indeed to taking the time to join us. And many congratulations on such a wonderful book and such a successful writing career. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through all the posts above may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions (which we like to ask all authors, and will be archived on the site):

Which childhood book most inspired you?

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

Over to you...

fifide Thu 03-May-12 21:05:19

Hi Jeffrey, I haven't read any of your other books but I really enjoyed the marriage plot. It took a while to get into but by the 2nd half I was hooked.
I have a professional interest in the theme of bipolar disorder and was impressed by your representation of Leonard's illness. The difference in how this might be treated in the US and UK was highlighted by the reference to using medication in order to get patients discharged before their insurance runs out! No real questions as such just thanks for the free book and the opportunity to read something I probably wouldn't have picked out in a bookshop.

mum2jakie Thu 03-May-12 21:06:35

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of the Marriage Plot, via Mumsnet. Not managed to read it all yet -blame having three kids and a part time job- so hope I'm not going to come across many spoilers by taking part in this tonight.

pillowcase Thu 03-May-12 21:09:09

Hi Jeffrey,
Just wondering what you're working on at the moment? How long does it take you to write a first draft and do you stick to your original plan, or does the writing take on a life of its own?
Have you ever tried to write for children?

thanks

I loved The Marriage Plot as much as Middlesex and read it the same way - as quickly as possible because I was dying to know how it ended. I've been wracking my brain for a question but I think I'm still digesting it. A great book, thanks to the book club for nudging me to read it!

motherofmany Thu 03-May-12 21:10:31

Did you play with the pace f the marriage plot in the same way as Victorian writers which you refer to in th novel? For me marriage plot is a successful novel which is less complex and deep than Middlesex. I wonder how much you played with the reader with developing a less substantial plot?

ProfCoxWouldGetIt Thu 03-May-12 21:11:47

Hi Jeffrey, just wanted to say I really enjoyed your book, I must admit when I saw how focused on the subject of "advanced" English it was I was a bit nervous about reading it, but i thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Must admit I felt a bit sorry for Mitchell, and really hoped him and Madeline would get together, but on reflection it was great to have a more realistic ending.

Thanks for a great book, I will definitely be reading your other books.

Nice to have you, mum2jakie - and I promise that even if there are spoilers, it's well worth reading anyway. I sneaked a peek at the ending way before I finished it, and it didn't change my enjoyment of the book at all.

I'm going to add another question for Jeffrey:

An aspect of the book that I found fascinating was the switch in perspective between the male and the female, and the truthfulness of their more extreme inner thoughts about relationships/sex/love etc.

Which female writer do you think writes the most truthful male characters?

And who are your main literary influences, or does it change depending on what you are writing?

Sorry, that's two more. Am being greedy now.

pillowcase Thu 03-May-12 21:18:10

DH is jealous that I'm all Jeffrey Jeffrey tonight, so his question is Do you know how to cook?
Mmmmhhh very deep that, no?

Just checking all ok with Jeffrey, will keep you posted...

I've been in email contact with Jeffrey since 7.30 this evening, and he was all ready to come on, so I can only assume that his internet has gone down.

Keep posting questions here and hopefully we'll resume radio contact as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, I'll keep investigating what's happening...

mum2jakie Thu 03-May-12 21:28:55

Perhaps we scared him off! ;)

No luck so far. I've been emailing to no avail, so I expect it's either the internet playing up over in the US...

Or we're speculating that the UK/US time difference has got muddled (with British Summer Time) and he might be on at 10.00

So if you want to wait then please do, otherwise I'm sure Jeffrey will answer the questions at a later time and we'll let you know either when the new chat will be, or when he has sent us his answers.

So sorry, I know many of you have been looking forward to this, I'm keeping fingers crossed that it's some kind of a timing issue and we might still hear from Jeffrey in ten minutes or so....

Parrish Thu 03-May-12 21:52:54

Hello! I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book. I found it fascinating. Will Jeffrey be here? I am emailing from a meal out, I was so passionate about this book.

DazR Thu 03-May-12 21:56:00

Hi Tilly, are you going to let us have more details of the next Book of the Month tonight? Thought it was going to be after the 'on line' chat with Will Jeffrey?

juneau Thu 03-May-12 21:59:38

Hi Jeffrey,

I'm loving the book so far (started it on Monday, so I'm only 1/4 of the way through), but am finding it very compulsive - my poor kids are having to vie with it for my attention!

How long do you spend researching and writing your books, because it's been a while (about 8 years?), since 'Middlesex' appeared. Have you been working on this book all that time? There are authors out there who churn out book after book, but you turn out one finely crafted piece and then appear to take a break - so do you go off and do something else for a bit?

DaxR, yes, I'll be posting the thread about the next Book of the Month tonight.
May's book is Night Waking by Sarah Moss. And it is excellent. I sort of made it a rule not to pick books about motherhood, but made an exception for this one as it is so dry and well observed. And not just about mothers, either, but it is definitely her descriptions of domestic life that made me laugh hardest and longest.

Parrish, so sorry that Jeffrey not here, we don't know quite what has happened as he was all set to go, and then there has been no word. Hoping that he might be on in a minute, but if not, we'll reschedule and keep you posted on the new date.

Nope, I think we have to call it a day.

I'm so sorry, everyone. We'll let you know what's happening as soon as we hear from Jeffrey. Hopefully we can reschedule, or else Jeffrey will come on and answer all these questions in his own time.

Meanwhile, get ready to grab your May book once the page goes live tomorrow.

Parrish Thu 03-May-12 22:21:52

So sorry he has had problems. sad

Abcinthia Thu 03-May-12 22:24:29

I am sad he has had problems. I was looking forward to the discussion.

What time is the form going live tomorrow for May's book?

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:32:01

kandinskysgirl

I have just finished this.

<Spoiler alert>

I loved the ending..I thought the fact that the girl didn't have to end up with a boy after the ending of her marriage was quite a positive statement to women. I thought it sent a strong message that women are capable of being ok without having to be in a relationship.

I did like to think that after a while Madeleine and Mitchell would end up together but in a healthy way rather than rushing into it.

So my question is do you carry on the characters stories in your head or do they end for you when the book ends?

JE: Generally not. A book ends for me when the story ends, when I’ve sad all that I can about the characters and their particular situation. If I had more to say about them, if I thought the reader needed to follow them into the future, then I would expand the book. But when I feel I’ve suggested everything that might happen to them in the future, when the book suggests the trajectory f their stories beyond the end of the book, that that’s what I call a successful ending. In terms of “The Marriage Plot” I do hint at what will happen to the characters later on, but it’s a story about young adulthood not middle age or old age, and so it ends with the first real check to the characters’ ambitions and illusions. They grow up, at the end, and do not live on in my imagination.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-May-12 22:32:27

Abcinthia

I am sad he has had problems. I was looking forward to the discussion.

What time is the form going live tomorrow for May's book?

The page is almost ready, so let's say 10.30am. It's a cracking novel, so well worth trying to get a copy.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:37:37

kandinskysgirl

I have just finished this.

<Spoiler alert>

I loved the ending..I thought the fact that the girl didn't have to end up with a boy after the ending of her marriage was quite a positive statement to women. I thought it sent a strong message that women are capable of being ok without having to be in a relationship.

I did like to think that after a while Madeleine and Mitchell would end up together but in a healthy way rather than rushing into it.

So my question is do you carry on the characters stories in your head or do they end for you when the book ends?

Generally not. A book ends for me when the story ends, when I’ve sad all that I can about the characters and their particular situation. If I had more to say about them, if I thought the reader needed to follow them into the future, then I would expand the book. But when I feel I’ve suggested everything that might happen to them in the future, when the book suggests the trajectory f their stories beyond the end of the book, that that’s what I call a successful ending. In terms of “The Marriage Plot” I do hint at what will happen to the characters later on, but it’s a story about young adulthood not middle age or old age, and so it ends with the first real check to the characters’ ambitions and illusions. They grow up, at the end, and do not live on in my imagination.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:39:31

Abcinthia

I just finished and I really enjoyed it.

In the book you mentioned many different authors and their work, so I was wondering which author(s) and/or novels inspired you the most to become an author yourself?

“A Portait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce. That was the book that made me want to become a writer, like its hero, Stephen Dedalus. I read it when I was sixteen and didn’t pick up any of the irony. I took it straight. The artistic vocation was akin to a priestly vocation. Put on the mantle of art. Create “the uncreated conscious” of your race. Etc. And now look what happened to me all these years later! All from reading a book.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:40:33

MayCanary

Really enjoyed the book although it looked daunting at first glance. Thanks to your publishers for my copy.

You write very fondly (it seems) about P-town. Do you have connections with the area?

My wife and I spent a winter in Provincetown when she was a Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center there. I do have some fond memories of the place and the people we met. I was just beginning “Middlesex” then and used to jog through the dunes after my day’s work, trying to work out problems in my head.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:41:25

yUMMYmUMMYb

I really enjoyed this book enormously, and i would never have chosen to read it. Thanks for the free copy, i will be heartily recommending to friends. My question is about the theme of mental health - how did you research this topic? Your writing makes scenes appear so vivid, i loved your style. I lived with a manic depressive flat-mate for 3 years and your descriptions were uncannily accurate and remindedme so much of that time in my life.

Definitely the best bookof 2012 for me.

I didn’t do a great deal of research, mainly used the internet to acquaint myself with the chief symptoms of bipolar disorder and the treatments available in 1982, as well as the side effects of those medications. Then I threw myself imaginatively into Leonard’s mind and body and tried to describe what he felt like in his highs and lows.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:42:47

Bellstar

Only bought the book today so have to get a move on if I want to join in on thursday!!

My question to the author is-

I looooooooooooved The virgin suicides-I read an excerpt in Cosmoblush when I was a young teen and ran straight out to buy it!!

But...I was disapointed in the film version? how did you feel about it? oh and if I am allowed to be cheeky and ask another question-why so long between books?<sobs>

I like Sophia and like all her films, including “mine.” Of course, you can’t replicate a novel in cinematic terms. They’re different animals. And TVS, with its odd narrative voice so fundamental to the novel, presents a particular problem for the filmmaker. Sophie caught the mood of the book, though, its atmosphere. I loved the soundtrack by “Air,” probably one of the most successful I know of. Great music all on it own.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:43:38

NancyMumsnet

Hi Jeffrey,

I've been a big fan of yours, ever since I got a copy of the Virgin Suicides when I was a teenager, and then when I picked Middlesex up a few years later, I couldn't put it down.

The Marriage Plot was TERRIFIC - oh my god!! I was gushing about it to everyone from about the first chapter on, and I couldn't put it down. I even found myself deliberately slowing myself from finishing it took quickly. I'm actually looking forward to re-reading it again. I don't think I ever related so much to each character individually before. What a joy it was to read. Thank you.

My question is that I've noticed that between all three of your books - Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, Marriage Plot - there's a theme of emerging teenage sexuality, confusion and subverted desire, particularly within young women (though this was obviously across more of a spectrum in Middlesex.)

Was this always an interest of yours - have you studied it? Obviously the Greek myth of Oedipus, with the themes of sex, desire, incest, forbidden and blindness appears in Middlesex, between Calliope and the Obscure Object in particular, but have you had any other education in the field? What draws you to writing about this?

True. Sort of. That was my local when I lived in Berlin. I didn’t write the book there but I did go there a lot and was and remain friendly with the owners. I could never write in a bar, however. But I love the Felsenkeller and derived “inspiration” there. In liquid form.

wickerman Thu 03-May-12 22:47:21

I have read your novels in reverse - I started with the marriage plot which I read 4 times - amazing, my brother has recently been diagnosed with bpd and your description of Leonard was extremely moving and accurate; then Middlesex - phenomenal and I am of Greek origin also which made sense of a lot of my family's traits and obsessions - and now wallowing in the dreamy limpid prose of Virgin Suicides for the 4th time. You are an incredible writer. I'm jealous.
Your novels seem to take you a long time. Why is this? Are you meticulous, a procrastinator, a teacher,a libertine, a tennis pro, a stay at home father? I suspect the first as the scope and sweep of your novels is immense.

yUMMYmUMMYb Thu 03-May-12 22:47:43

Thans for joining us, i am amaze that you are able to give such accurate descriptions of bipolar disorder from relatively basic research. Fab book

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:53:23

Teaddict

Hi Jeffrey
I am a brand new fan as I have to admit I hadn't heard of you before! (Well that's what happens when you inherit your reading material from a sister)
I am really enjoying The Marriage Plot and will definitely get your other two books to read next.

Two quick and easy questions as I'm struggling with the americanisms... What are "wingtips" as in "he wore wingtips without socks" also what are "de Kooning" teeth?

Thanks

Wingtips are what I think you call brogues. Men’s dress shoes. “Late-de-Kooning teeth” refers to the teeth of women in the late paintings of Willem de Kooning. If you have a look at them, you’ll see what I mean.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:56:34

minimuffin

I haven't read The Marriage Plot or the Virgin Suicides, though I bought them both immediately after reading Middlesex earlier this year. The best-written novel I have read for a long, long time and one that I looked forward to wallowing in at the end of every day whilst I was reading it. As a family saga I loved it. Middlesex has particular resonance for me though as my eldest son was born with the same condition as Cal, although thanks to immediate diagnosis and a very skilled surgeon he will thankfully not face the same issues as Cal. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to read the book as I knew it would hit all kinds of nerves, and I did find parts upsetting and difficult to read, obviously, but I wanted to try to get as many perspectives as possible on the condition so that I can try to support my son as best I can as he grows up and begins to understand what happened to him. The book made me realise that in days gone by he would probably have been labelled as and lived as a hermaphrodite. I hadn't quite realised that and it sent me into a tailspin for a long time after reading it.... but it was beautifully and sympathetically written. I loved how it normalised everything - by the end of the novel you barely even remembered that the grandparents were brother and sister, their situation was so normal, so everyday, they were so much a product of their generation and surroundings that the most extraordinary thing about them was almost forgotten. The same was true of Cal to a degree - she (then he) was just a normal teen dealing with normal teen stuff until reality intervened but you felt you knew and liked him so much by the time of realisation that all that mattered was how he dealt with it. Whether he'd chosen to continue living as a woman or to do what he did and embrace being male, it didn't really matter. All that mattered was that he was OK. I loved the book. What I wanted to know as I read it though was, how on earth did you decide to write about this subject? I can't believe I now have the chance to ask you!

Also, is the reason you have had long intervals between novels due in part to the amount of research you do? You had obviously done extensive research into the subject of Middlesex. I haven't read your other novels so I don't know if they are as rooted in specific subjects, but if so, how do you pick your subject matter? Does inspiration strike unexpectedly from something you read or an anecdote you hear? Or do you set out in search of a subject when you are ready to work on a new novel?

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:57:40

minimuffin

I haven't read The Marriage Plot or the Virgin Suicides, though I bought them both immediately after reading Middlesex earlier this year. The best-written novel I have read for a long, long time and one that I looked forward to wallowing in at the end of every day whilst I was reading it. As a family saga I loved it. Middlesex has particular resonance for me though as my eldest son was born with the same condition as Cal, although thanks to immediate diagnosis and a very skilled surgeon he will thankfully not face the same issues as Cal. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to read the book as I knew it would hit all kinds of nerves, and I did find parts upsetting and difficult to read, obviously, but I wanted to try to get as many perspectives as possible on the condition so that I can try to support my son as best I can as he grows up and begins to understand what happened to him. The book made me realise that in days gone by he would probably have been labelled as and lived as a hermaphrodite. I hadn't quite realised that and it sent me into a tailspin for a long time after reading it.... but it was beautifully and sympathetically written. I loved how it normalised everything - by the end of the novel you barely even remembered that the grandparents were brother and sister, their situation was so normal, so everyday, they were so much a product of their generation and surroundings that the most extraordinary thing about them was almost forgotten. The same was true of Cal to a degree - she (then he) was just a normal teen dealing with normal teen stuff until reality intervened but you felt you knew and liked him so much by the time of realisation that all that mattered was how he dealt with it. Whether he'd chosen to continue living as a woman or to do what he did and embrace being male, it didn't really matter. All that mattered was that he was OK. I loved the book. What I wanted to know as I read it though was, how on earth did you decide to write about this subject? I can't believe I now have the chance to ask you!

Also, is the reason you have had long intervals between novels due in part to the amount of research you do? You had obviously done extensive research into the subject of Middlesex. I haven't read your other novels so I don't know if they are as rooted in specific subjects, but if so, how do you pick your subject matter? Does inspiration strike unexpectedly from something you read or an anecdote you hear? Or do you set out in search of a subject when you are ready to work on a new novel?

The inspiration for MX came from two sources. The first was a book published by Michel Foucault called “Herculine Barbin: Memoir of a 19th century French Hermaphrodite.” The memoir promised to be an amazing document and I began it with great interest. Unfortunately, a large measure of my curiosity wasn’t satisfied by the document, and so I decided to write my own.

The second inspiration was, of course, Ovid, whose “Metamorphoses” my Latin class read in high school. There I encountered the figure of Tiresias, who had been both male and female. I thought I’d update his story and, rather than writing a myth, would try to be as accurate as I could about the biology and genetics involved. Research into intersex conditions led me to 5 alpha-reductase deficiency syndrome, which led me to genetics, which led me to genealogy, which led me Greece, and back to classicism. I did a huge amount of research for MX and that was one reason the book took me so long to write. I appreciate your question and wish you and your son the best.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 22:58:52

carriemumsnet

I can't believe I'm missing this discussion. I loved Middlesex and think I loved this one even more. I even sat down to read when the kids were still up to finish it...I can't tell you how rare that is...probably never happened before, the children were a bit stunned smile. I also couldn't wait to give it to my best friend but now I've passed it on feel a little bereft. I'm slightly embarrassed as an English grad that I (apparently) missed lots of literary references/parallels - I was too wound up in the characters/plot (never really did that well in literary theory when I studied English either, so it was interesting to revisit that in the book). Did you sit down to write a novel full of literary references/parallels or did you have the story in your head and the refs came naturally as you went along? Or are all those folks spotting literary refs wrong and it's just a jolly good read after allsmile
Again sorry to miss you and thanks for coming on MN. Really looking forward to your next book so do crack on won't you grin

I hope it’s a jolly good read. But it’s also a book about reading and readers. The literary references came in as a result of that. The epigraph is, “People wouldn’t fall in love if they hadn’t heard love talked about.” Or as I rephrase it, “if they hadn’t read about it.” Madeleine reads a lot of love stories. As a result, she develops illusions about love, illusions that her own experience will force her to abandon. The idea for the book began Madeleine, a college student caught between Jane Austen and Roland Barthes, who, as she reads French theory deconstructing love, falls in love with a boy in her class. It began with that ironic situation. I don’t think readers needs to know all the writers I mention in the book. In a sense, the writers are just party of the environment these three characters inhabit. If I were writing about footballers, I would have mentioned footballers. But I was writing about reading and young love.

I hope to be finished with a book of short stories soon and then I’ll crack on with another novel.

Am glad some of you still here to get the belated chat! Jeffrey had times mixed up in his diary. But he's going to post all his answers now...

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:00:21

TillyBookClub

Evening everyone

We've featured many great books this year, but I have to nail my colours to the mast, put aside my usual neutrality and say out loud that THE MARRIAGE PLOT has been my favourite so far. It might be because I studied English Literature, it might be because I was already a huge fan of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides. Or it might just be that this is (to me) the perfect combination of big, complex, philosophical ideas and small, vivid, psychologically spot-on detail. And funny, to boot.

So I am thrilled that Jeffrey Eugenides is here tonight to throw light on the inspiration and research behind his book, and to talk about his previous novels and his writing career.

I feel there is a huge amount to squeeze into an hour, so without further ado...

Jeffrey, firstly, thank you very much indeed to taking the time to join us. And many congratulations on such a wonderful book and such a successful writing career. We'll kick off with the advance questions from further up the thread. And then we'll aim to get through as many new ones as possible over the next hour (although getting through all the posts above may take a good chunk of that...)

I'd also like to add our two standard MN Bookclub questions (which we like to ask all authors, and will be archived on the site):

Which childhood book most inspired you?

It was a book called “The Shadow of a Bull,” about a bullfighter in Spain. I was in second grade. I don’t remember much about it now other than that it was rather advanced for my age and I felt proud to be able to read it. And it had a matador on the cover.

What would be the first piece of advice you would give anyone attempting to write fiction?

In order to write fiction you first have to read it. Acquaint yourself, as bet you can, with the literary tradition. Find out what’s been done so that you can learn from the past but not repeat it. Next, you have to acquire the discipline of sitting in a chair at a desk every day. Start small. An hour or so per day. Gradually build up to four or five or eight.

Over to you...

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:08:36

juneau

Hi Jeffrey,

I'm loving the book so far (started it on Monday, so I'm only 1/4 of the way through), but am finding it very compulsive - my poor kids are having to vie with it for my attention!

How long do you spend researching and writing your books, because it's been a while (about 8 years?), since 'Middlesex' appeared. Have you been working on this book all that time? There are authors out there who churn out book after book, but you turn out one finely crafted piece and then appear to take a break - so do you go off and do something else for a bit?

After MX, I started another novel that didn't work out. Lost about three years on that. Happily, three of the characters in that book came out alive: Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell. I gave their own book, which turned into "The Marriage Plot."

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:11:09

wickerman

I have read your novels in reverse - I started with the marriage plot which I read 4 times - amazing, my brother has recently been diagnosed with bpd and your description of Leonard was extremely moving and accurate; then Middlesex - phenomenal and I am of Greek origin also which made sense of a lot of my family's traits and obsessions - and now wallowing in the dreamy limpid prose of Virgin Suicides for the 4th time. You are an incredible writer. I'm jealous.
Your novels seem to take you a long time. Why is this? Are you meticulous, a procrastinator, a teacher,a libertine, a tennis pro, a stay at home father? I suspect the first as the scope and sweep of your novels is immense.

I have no excuse. My books are quite different, one to the next, so each time I write a book I have to re-invent the wheel. I can't rely on past practice. This slows things down, as do my many doubts about the work itself. I work every day though, many hours of each day, so it's not as though I'm off gallivanting or gardening. I'm going to try to get better at this thing, or at least faster, but we'll see what happens.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:14:23

TillyBookClub

Nice to have you, mum2jakie - and I promise that even if there are spoilers, it's well worth reading anyway. I sneaked a peek at the ending way before I finished it, and it didn't change my enjoyment of the book at all.

I'm going to add another question for Jeffrey:

An aspect of the book that I found fascinating was the switch in perspective between the male and the female, and the truthfulness of their more extreme inner thoughts about relationships/sex/love etc.

Which female writer do you think writes the most truthful male characters?

Alice Munro is very good.

And who are your main literary influences, or does it change depending on what you are writing?

The great Russians (Tolstoy, Chekhov, Nabokov) and the great American Jews (Saul Bellow Philip Roth). With some Henry James thrown in. But, yes, it does change over time. And hopefully diminishes.

Sorry, that's two more. Am being greedy now.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:17:19

hippy99

Hi Jeffrey,
I really enjoyed this book although I did initially find it difficult to get into. I liked the way the same story was told from the perspective of different characters. This also enabled me to understand the manic depression theme from both the sufferers viewpoint and those people around them. It seems as an author you understood both sides is this purely from research? or do you know people personally who have or had MD?

I don't know anyone well personally who has bi-polar disease, though of course have met people in the past who I now suspect had it. At any rate, I wasn't describing someone I know but was trying to imagine what it would be like to have the disease.

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:19:13

Anyone still awake in England?

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:22:10

Well, I'm terribly sorry for the mix-up, everyone. I had the time down wrong, have had it down wrong for months and so believed it all the more. Thank you for you questions and comments. I've been traveling a lot, which doesn't make things any easier. Next week am off to New Zealand and Australia, so I don't think I'll be able to do a re-run of this chat. For that, again, my sincere apologies.

JE

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:25:18

Someone asked about the Felsenkeller, and I can't find who. So here's the answer:

True. Sort of. That was my local when I lived in Berlin. I didn’t write the book there but I did go there a lot and was and remain friendly with the owners. I could never write in a bar, however. But I love the Felsenkeller and derived “inspiration” there. In liquid form.

Goodnight.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-May-12 23:31:48

Goodnight!

Thanks so much for all your answers, we got there despite shades of Madeleine and Mitchell - timing all awry.

We'll look forward to your short stories and next novel (as patiently as possible).

Thank you again.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-May-12 23:33:52

I'm still here..when we announce the new book of the month, we are lucky enough to get a number of copies in to the office and never before has there been such a buzz about a book as this month - and lots of us new to your novels (like someone else, I;m also reading your novels in reverse). One thing: NancyMumsnet is a HUGE fan of yours and you seem to have mixed up the answer to her question. Any chance you can go back and answer her question?

JeffreyEugenides Thu 03-May-12 23:53:08

RachelMumsnet

I'm still here..when we announce the new book of the month, we are lucky enough to get a number of copies in to the office and never before has there been such a buzz about a book as this month - and lots of us new to your novels (like someone else, I;m also reading your novels in reverse). One thing: NancyMumsnet is a HUGE fan of yours and you seem to have mixed up the answer to her question. Any chance you can go back and answer her question?

I thought I did, but here it is again:

I’m often asked this question but I never know the answer. It must have something to do with my own experience growing up, some kind of vividness and mystery that I both enjoy revisiting and try to describe or explain. I haven’t had any kind of special education in “teenage sexuality” but I did engaged in my own experiments at the time, like most everyone else, and the memory lingers. I’m not talking about sex so much as about feeling, feeling so intensely about things, as one does in youth. All your senses are keen then and everything that happens in happening for the first time.

Hullygully Fri 04-May-12 09:11:37

So sorry I missed this - although so it seems did Jeffrey...Had a meeting couldn't escape from.

Love it that you missed it Jeffrey, just the sort of thing I would have done.

Still love you very much!

minimuffin Fri 04-May-12 10:00:32

I'm not sure if you'll be checking back into this thread, but thank you so much for your answer Jeffrey. I was reading last night, but on my iphone so typing too unreliable and slow to join in. My knowledge of the classics is sadly lacking but you have reminded me why (as my amazing English lit teacher tried to tell us repeatedly) they are at the root of every story. I will get round to it one day - so much to read, so little time! In an age when everyone seemingly is being encouraged to put pen to paper you are reminder of what a true writer is, how to do it properly and why it's important. Take as long as you like to write the next one, I'm sure it'll be worth the wait, but hearing about your writing process is interesting. Can't wait read The Marriage Plot now that I know more what it is about - I was just thinking about my first teenage love the other day, strangely, and how my experience of it (unrequited) has affected all the relationships I have had since in some way. And yes, the intensity of those teenage years is not to be treated lightly... Will try to handle my sons with care when they get to that age!

judithann Fri 04-May-12 22:33:21

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Teaddict Tue 08-May-12 21:26:33

"de-kooning teeth" - something like this perhaps?

http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/arts/a-mix-fear-and-pleasure

Is it just me or is this a really obscure reference?! Oh well, you learn something new every day. Thanks MN bookclub...

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