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Middlesex
 
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Jeffrey Eugenides
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Middlesex

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  393,231 ratings  ·  17,432 reviews
In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry blond classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them--along with Callie's failure to develop--leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all. Th...more
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published September 28th 2003 by BBC Audiobooks (first published 2002)
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Geraldine Sy apparently, the book's rights were sold to HBO in 2009, with rumors of it being adapted into a one-hour drama series. source: …moreapparently, the book's rights were sold to HBO in 2009, with rumors of it being adapted into a one-hour drama series. source: http://filmschoolrejects.com/features...(less)
Caelin Webber Because his brother drives the family business into bankruptcy, Cal refers to him by a specific portion of the US bankruptcy law.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Trina
I got off the bus from Bumbershoot around 1 AM, exhausted. Convinced that even the cars speeding past my window couldn’t keep me from this night’s rest, I opened the door to a stench of exceptional vileness. Not a dead stench, or a spoiled food stench. This was the stench of sewage. From a spot in the center of the living room I surveyed the apartment and discovered the source: the commode and the area around it were covered in yuck. I dialed up the landlord. The exchange went something like thi...more
Peter
Don't judge a book by its cover.

I'd seen this book on the shelves of a number of friends and in the arms of a number of travelers, so I decided to pick it up. The title, "Middlesex", suggested English countryside to me. On the cover was what looked like a steamship, and a quote on the back began "Part Tristram Shanty, part-Ishmael..." So I came to the foolish conclusion that this was some 19th century English seafaring novel. (Typical.)

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Middlesex is the story of a...more
Jason
Alright, it’s high time I review this hermaphroditic little masterpiece.

Being a pseudo-biochemist (pseudo in the sense that I only pretend to be a biochemist, whereas in reality I write scientific development reports and other documents that no one will ever read but which I’ve convinced myself are just as fulfilling as doing real science), I find the premise of this novel to be incredibly interesting.

5α-Reductase deficiency is an autosomal recessive disorder; autosomal meaning that the gene cod...more
Andrew
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cassy
This isn’t so much a review as an embarrassing story. I gave the book four stars for a reason. The writing is beautiful. I would recommend it. Now onwards to my shame.

So Brooke and I were standing in line to meet Eugenides. Please understand it was a really long line after a similarly long day at work. We passed the time chitchatting about this and that at our workplace and life in general. By the time the organizer offered post-its* to our segment of the line, we were getting silly and joked ab...more
Taylor K.
Jul 21, 2014 Taylor K. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone with an open mind, and even some of those with closed ones.
Mr. Eugenides can do everything, or at least I am convinced of such after reading Middlesex.

I passed on this book for a long time. I kept picking it up in bookstores and putting it down. I've seen quotes from it everywhere, all of which were beautiful, and kept hearing wonderful things about it from friends. To be perfectly honest, what kept me from picking it up in the subject: a hermaphrodite. I think of myself as someone with an open mind, but the thing is that I just wasn't sure if I'd be ab...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classics" for the first time, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Book #15: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

The story in a nutshell:
The tale of "the most famous hermaphrodite in history," Middlesex is the second and lates...more
Kim
This book has all the major players....

Incest, war, teenage girl-on-girl experimental sex, deadheads, undescended testes, and a 2 inch penis.

Yep, it took me all of one chapter to realize that Middlesex was referring to something besides a county in England.

Best Part: Answering Maurice's question "What's that about?" then watching him squirm and cross his legs in obvious pain.

Worst Part: Glaring Oprah sticker on the cover telling me I've succumbed to the masses.
Trevor
"When I told my life story to Dr. Luce, the place where he invariably got interested was when I came to Clementine Stark. Luce didn't care about criminally smitten grandparents or silkworm boxes or serenading clarinets. To a certain extent, I understand. I even agree."
I agree too. This quote comes from page 263 and is really where the story picks up and gets into the subject the book promises--Cal's life as a hermaphrodite. Honestly, while the first 263 pages were interesting and had some impor...more
Jacob
April 2012

Goddammit, Middlesex is beautiful. It's epic. And it's roughly 500 pages too short. That's right--too short. As a sweeping, three-generation epic novel that covers the lives of Calliope's grandparents, parents, and her own childhood before she became Cal, it's a damn near perfect novel. As the story of Cal, post-transformation, it's...sadly lacking. The last quarter of the book is rushed and unsatisfying. It's beautiful anyway, but a few hundred extra pages wouldn't have hurt...

It also...more
Kelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martine
I'm torn on this book. On the one hand, I loved the story, which is, as another reviewer put it, 'the greatest, most incestuous Greek epic since the Iliad'. On the other hand, I had serious problems with some of the writing. I haven't seen my quibbles mentioned anywhere else, so I guess I'm alone on them. Or am I?

In a nutshell, Middlesex is the story of Cal, a Greek American who was born a hermaphrodite and raised as a girl before finally realising he was boy as a teenager. In about five hundred...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 17, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006)
Shelves: ex-1001, pulitzer, oprah
Engaging epic of the three generations of a Greek family, the Stephanides. The first generation is composed of siblings, Desdemona and Lefty who leave their country during a political unrest, go to Prohibition-era Detroit and there have an incestuous relationship as husband and wife. Born to them in Detroit are son Milton and daughter Zoe. Milton marries his parent's cousin's daughter, Tessie and move to Michigan. Born to them are son Chapter Eleven and a daughter Calliope or Callie. At 13, Call...more
Stacey
May 12, 2008 Stacey rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: audiobook lovers
Recommended to Stacey by: audible.com reviews
I've read quite a few reviews of this book saying that it was patchy in places, or it bogged down in the historical parts, the character not being believable in others, etc.

I have not read the novel, so perhaps this is true. As an audiobook however, it was magnificent. The story was compelling, the history inseparable from the development of Calliope, and the voice of the reader - Kristoffer Tabori - was genius. His character variations made an interesting concept into a fascinating narrative o...more
Sandi
For some unfathomable reason, I decided to start working Pulitzer Prize winning novels into my regular reading. I'd already read several, and it just seems like a good idea.

Middlesex wasn't exactly what I expected. Heck, I'm not really sure what I expected. What I knew was that the protagonist was a girl who discovered that she was really a boy at the age of 14. What I didn't expect was a warm, loving, often funny family saga. Jeffrey Eugenides quite clearly has a fondness for his Greek heritag...more
Jason Koivu
What a big pile of everything this book is!

I like books like Middlesex, one's that stretch over generations, capturing historic moments in time from different perspectives and encapsulating an era. But sometimes they can be too busy, and Middlesex is toooo busy.

Part of the problem is that the struggles of the main character are plenty of story to work with, so there's no need to tie in an immigration from the motherland tale or set it against the Detroit riots as a background. All that extra mak...more
Maureen
This Greek family saga, as narrated by a hermaphrodite, has many pages, but I flicked through them easily like so many moistened labia. Moments of tragedy lay concealed within, like undescended testes, but warm humour dominated, swelling forth like a budding penis.
Erin K
Aug 08, 2007 Erin K rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not sure
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eve
Middlesex has been stacked in a pile of books I like to refer to as my "Jumanji" books. The two main child characters in the film Jumanji begin a creepy, larger-than-life board game that results in the "Little Man Tate" boy disappearing, and the the young girl running away in horror, putting an abrupt end to the game. Though stowed away in the attic soon after the occurrence and forgotten, a distant jungle drum beat still emanates from the board game, forever beckoning that someone continue the...more
Mara
Aug 25, 2014 Mara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mara by: Steve
Back in the era of the paper book (before people started furtively reading Fifty Shades of Grey and Mein Kampf* on their tablets and whatnot) there were certain books that you'd see everywhere; bedside tables, in this hands of fellow commuters, and staking out beach-chair territory.

Even in the digital era, there are books that it seems like everyone is reading. When this happens, I exhibit a distinct (albeit self-defeating) behavioral pattern wherein if I don't read it hot off the presses, I the...more
Madeline
A storytelling hermaphrodite chronicles his family's history beginning with his grandparent's emmigration from Turkey to the US in the 1920s.
Incest. Mythology. Dysfunctional Greek families. Explosive secrets. Humor in the most unexpected places. Drugs. Sex. Hippies. Riots. Hitchhikers. The Illiad.

WHY AREN'T YOU OUT THE DOOR YET? GO. BOOKSTORE. PURCHASE. READ. YOU'RE WELCOME.
Caleb
I've been lounging around in bed all day today, slobbering on this book like a crushing schoolgirl. I'm reluctant to use the word, but this book is truly "epic," and not in a frat-boy kind of way. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't discuss any plot points. But really, the plot plays second string to Eugenides' style. Never in my life have I read a book so smooth, like a malty drink, like a wet porpoise, like clear mountain air. (so maybe these metaphors aren't apealing, but it's an a...more
Alison
"Why?" she kept crying softly, shaking her head..."Why did you run away, honey?"
"I had to."
"Don't you think it would have been easier just to stay the way you were?"
I lifted my face and looked into my mother's eyes. And I told her: "This is the way I was."


Most people know that Jeffrey Eugenides's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Middlesex" is the story of a girl who was "born twice"--first as a baby girl and later as a teenage boy. Our narrator was born with 5-alpha reductase deficiency, a genetic mut...more
Noce
Franzen Gnè Gnè Gnè

“Jeffrey Eugenides è un grande talento e Middlesex vi conquisterà” (Jonathan Franzen)

Ma Franzen dico io!!! Sarai mica invidioso?!?? Il New York Times (che probabilmente è dotato di un generatore casuale di recensioni) avrebbe fatto di meglio.

Davanti a cotanta meraviglia, sei riuscito a partorire solo queste quattro paroline stitiche?

No perché, se tu lo volessi ammettere, guarda che io ti capirei.
Ci sono veramente poche penne che sanno raccontare saghe familiari e contemporanea...more
Brad
I admit it. I was surprised by Middlesex.

Back when I got stuck in the doldrums of The Shipping News, finally tossing it overboard, then wasted my time with The Stone Diaries a year later, I subconsciously vowed to ignore the Pulitzer Prize forever. I broke that vow in '99 for The Hours, but that was because one of my mentors knew Cunningham, and he recommended The Hours because he knew my love for Mrs. Dalloway. I went straight back to my personal embargo, though, and it stuck until 2009 when I...more
Christy
I enjoyed reading Middlesex, but I'm not sure it succeeds as a work of literature. As the book went on, it became clear that it was all a buildup to the climactic moment when Cal discovers the genetic truth about himself. In this context, all the secondary plot about the grandparents and the parents felt like an obstruction to the real story. The focus on the previous generations stole the focus from Cal the narrator, and it was the narrator I was interested in. In digging for information about...more
Chloe
It’s always a bit of a gamble for me to pick up a book that has made the rounds of the awards circuit, especially when it’s a Pulitzer-winning Oprah book. The thing about award-winning novels is that they’re rarely mediocre. I always tend to find myself either absolutely blown away by them or shaking my head in wonder that such a travesty should ever find print, let alone win the Pulitzer or Man Booker (I’m looking at you, Blind Assassin and Line of Beauty). Still, even if I find myself loathing...more
Margitte
The story is about the last carrier/inheritor of the 5-alpha-reducatse deficiency syndrome in the Stephanides family, spanning over 80 years. This condition is caused by a recessive genetic mutation, resulting in an intersexual individual, known as a 'hermaphrodite', a normative, historical term, which originates from the Greek mythological figure called 'Hermaphroditus'

The story begins in the Greek Mythology, winding its way through the history of a Greek community in Turkey, who were forced to...more
Trevor
Aug 26, 2011 Trevor rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trevor by: Lorena
Shelves: literature
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky
Apr 20, 2009 Becky rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Becky by: Jon
This was my first book by Eugenides, and I wasn't sure what to expect really. I expected a coming-of-age story, yes, but not like this.

This book has a little bit of everything. Part memoir, part family tree, part medical case study, part sexuality enlightenment, part love story, part cultural history and identity revolution... Eugenides could have called his book "Baklava" and been perfectly accurate. There are many layers to this story, each one adding their own little bit of deliciousness to...more
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DaisyJD Online Bo...: Summer: Middlesex 4 18 Sep 02, 2014 06:48AM  
Can Cal ejaculate? 3 85 Jul 31, 2014 09:06AM  
I love that Gandhi said 1 28 Jul 27, 2014 07:23PM  
The 2014 Reading ...: June 2014 - Middlesex 45 37 Jul 27, 2014 07:48AM  
*~Can't Stop Read...: Middlesex 3 43 Jul 15, 2014 06:41AM  
Goodreads Italia: Middlesex di Jeffrey Eugenides - Commenti e discussione 65 153 Jul 08, 2014 09:25AM  
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Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer of Greek and Irish extraction.

Eugenides was born in Detroit, Michigan, of Greek and Irish descent. He attended Grosse Pointe's private University Liggett School. He took his undergraduate degree at Brown University, graduating in 1983. He later earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University.

In...more
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