Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


This is story of metamorphosis. Like Middlesex, the origins are Greek. The word metamorphosis comes from the Greek metamorphoun which means to transform or change shape. Now that linguistics lesson is out the way, we can talk about the book. There are several transformations. The Stephanides family transform from Greek to American. It is our narrator Cal that goes through the biggest transformation: ‘I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974.’

Despite Cal’s metamorphosis from Calliope to Cal, we don’t hear a lot about it. Instead she looks back at the life of her parents and grandparents and the changes and challenge they had to face. I don’t pretend to know about Greek culture or story telling but I recognise parts from my Introduction to Literature course at university when I should have read Homer and Ovid. I do remember this, story rarely existed in written form. Instead it was word of mouth, stories travelled through being told and passed on. This is how I like to think about this novel. Cal is telling what her parents told her and what her grandparent told her parents and what her great grandparents told her grandparents.

It was a fascinating read. The Stephanides have faced many tragedies yet I felt we’d only skimmed the surface. The novel concentrates more on the grandparents and I wanted to know more about Cal. His transformation from female to male was touched upon; the moment he realises what has been ‘wrong’ this whole time was told in great detail but not how he made those changes. He simply cut his hair, changed his clothes and ran. In the modern day moment, Cal has a good job. There’s a big gap in his story that I wanted more off. I would have happily read Middlesex: The Trilogy.

Watch my video review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBhhUxxau04

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