Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekly Whine: Middlesex

(May contain mild spoilers, but not really.)

Has everyone read this book? I think they have. Apparently, it won a Pulitzer Prize. Sounds impressive.

I recently finished reading Middlesex because I heard such good things about it. To put it mildly, I didn't like it.

The book actually made me angry because the subject matter had so much potential to be awesome. I mean, it's a book about a hermaphrodite. It's about a person who is born a girl then turns into a boy. I find that fascinating.

Except for 300 pages, the book just talked about how the hermaphrodite's grandparents immigrated to this country from Turkey. And then about Detroit in the first half of the twentieth century. And all the while, I'm screaming, "GET TO THE HERMAPHRODITE!"

And then as soon as the book actually gets interesting and the protagonist is dealing with becoming a man, the book ends!

I guess the family stuff is supposed to fit in because her grandparents were siblings, so that was what caused her to have the 5 alpha reductase deficiency. Except, of course, it didn't. Your grandparents being related wouldn't give you two recessive genes. It was because her parents were second cousins.

Also, the language was so dense and overly descriptive. For example, take the following sentence:

"Sing how the unsightly black fuzz, like the Persian legions of Darius, sweeps over the Achaean mainland of girls barely into their teens!"

I mean, why can't he just write: "Fuck, I'm getting hair on my upper lip."

I guess you don't win the Pulitzer prize by writing that though.

14 comments:

  1. i hated how the love interest was literally referred to as "the object." like, wow, you're not even being SUBTLE with your objectification here, bro!

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  2. I liked the book, but I can see how if you were interested in reading about a hermaphrodite's sexual discovery it might be a bit of a let down. I would suggest avoiding Midnight's Children too if you didn't like Middlesex, since it's written in a similar style (IMO).

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    1. Noted. Considering Paris Wife as our next book club selection..

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  3. I loved Middlesex the first time I read it, but when I tried to read it a second time I couldn't slog through the stories about the grandparents/parents again. I thought the final third of the book was brilliant though, and good insight into what it might be like to be intersex. (As if adolescence isn't hard enough.)

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    1. Yes, the last third of the book was facinating. That should have been the whole book!

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  4. My mom and I bought it cause we had heard good things (and, y'know, the award and all), but she read it and really didn't like it so I never bothered reading it. I generally hate overly descriptive/character development books though - I prefer a more intense plot :P

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    1. I prefer books that are written the way people talk.

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  5. Summary:

    See Jane. See Jane become Dick.

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  6. I agree that it's really hit-and-miss with these award winners. I found the following Canadian award winning books similarly dull: The Sentimentalists, Life of Pi, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, the list goes on. I am however loving the Hunger Games trilogy!

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    1. I didn't mind Life of Pi actually, it was definitely a bit weird though. But overall I find a lot of "adult" books pretty boring. I generally prefer young adult novels (if you are willing to wade through the twilight&family crap there are some great books). I recommend anything by Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief and I Am The Messenger were both fantastic).

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    2. My son is reading The Book Thief right now. I'll have to ask him about it. I loved the Hunger Games. Really well written, IMO.

      I never read Middlesex, but with that example of the ponderous prose, I think I would hate it.

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  7. "I guess you don't win the Pulitzer prize by writing that though."

    haha. Maybe because the words on that book are very complicated, it seemed like it is worthy to be commended. Or maybe it is about the controversy of the title of that book. Who knows?

    Cheers,
    Peny@online scrubs

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  8. I TOTALLY AGREE!!!!!!!!!!! I was given this book from a friend who said it was the best book ever and their book club thought so too. So I read it while I am at the gym and PLODDED through it. It was so BORING, but I kept reading cause I thought the good part had to be in there somewhere!! Alas, not to be. At least I did work off a pound or two getting through it.

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