Read, Reading, Would like to Read

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Last week I finished Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.  Ever read one of those books where every time someone asks you what you're reading they say "Oh!  I've heard that's a really good book!" This is one of those books.  Everyone I've talked to seems to think it is excellent.  That's why even after the first few pages, I struggled to keep reading it when normally, I'd just move on. 

Middlesex (2003) is a fiction book about a hermaphrodite.  The main character begins life as a girl, Callioppe.  Once she reaches puberty, she notices she likes girls and never begins to menstrate.  (SPOILER WARNING if you haven't read the book...)  After visits to doctors in NYC with her scared, aging 1st generation American-Greek parents, Cal finds out he also has male sexual organs and has too much testatorone pumping through his body to be classified as a female any longer.

Eugenides earned a Pulitzer Prize for Middlesex and even though the narrative picks up toward the end of the book, I never fully got into it.  The story line starts off slowly with flashbacks to the grandparents coming together in a small Grecian village and making a journey over on the boat.  That's when the grandparents who are brother and sister decide to become husband and wife.  That union ultimately leads to Cal's gene deficiency. 

The importance of a close-knit family is woven into the story from the beginning so It is hard to believe when Cal just runs away from his parents after a doctor's appointment in New York at the age of 15.  He doesn't contact the family for months and works in a sex show.

For me, moral of the story is:  if you don't like the book in the beginning, best to put it down and try another one.  I guess I just felt since it was an award-winner about gender-issues (a more modern literary topic) that I should stick with it.  However, if you want to read it, the book becomes more interesting in the second half.

Now, I'm onto A Passage to India (1924) by E. M. Forster. 

On the way into work today, NPR's Teri Gross was interviewing Jeff Sharlet about his book, The Family: The Secret Fundalmentalism at the Heart of American Power.  I'm going to put this one on hold at the library.  It is a bit scary to me to know there is a fundamentalist, tax-dodging group with potentially a large amount of access to naive lawmakers. 

Here's part of a review on NPR's site:

Founded in 1935 in opposition to FDR's New Deal, the evangelical group's views on religion and politics are so singular that some other Christian-right organizations consider them heretical.

The group also has a connection to a house in Washington, D.C., known as C Street. Owned by a foundation affiliated with the Family, C Street is officially registered as a church; in practice, it serves as a meeting place and residence for politicians like South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Nevada Sen. John Ensign and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn.

The Family, Sharlet writes, is responsible for founding the annual National Prayer Breakfast, a supposedly ecumenical — but implicitly Christian — event attended by the president, members of Congress and dignitaries from around the world. These foreign delegations are often led by top defense personnel, who use it as an opportunity to lobby the most influential people in Washington — and who repay the Family with access to their governments.

1 comment

Thabang Motsei said...

I read this book about five years ago and it is one my TOP 10. I love it and recommend it highly! But D you're giving away way too much on the review!Ann absolute favourite!

Thabi