4/1/2013: As extraordinary a novel as it ever was. (I can't believe how long it's been since I read it--and oh dear, the marginalia in my high school4/1/2013: As extraordinary a novel as it ever was. (I can't believe how long it's been since I read it--and oh dear, the marginalia in my high school copy is painful!) Not that I ever questioned its literary value, though I was a bit worried that it could never quite live up to its reputation, its unquestioned preeminence in the canon (even if it's the high school canon!). But--yup, it can. Fitzgerald writes the most amazing prose, the kinds of sentences that you want to read aloud to whoever is near you, that you want to say, "look, how did he do this?", that you want to internalize or memorize to help you see the world, somehow, the way he does. His word choice and imagery are rich and sometimes outlandish, yet it all works; his rhythm flows and swirls, changing to support the tone of each passage; his scenes and characters are summed up perfectly, with not an extra rag of a phrase or adjective to distract the reader. He packs a universe into 121 pages.
And the perhaps too overt symbolism, and the sense of arch weary cynicism, and the required tragic outcome--those aspects of the novel that (some might argue) threaten to overwhelm it? Well, I'll defend them as necessary, if only as a reflection of the period and the author and the world he is trying to capture. And what a world it was. I only hope that Leonardo di Caprio (in the movie coming out next week) can do it justice....more
6/28/2010: MIddlesex is a great story, with a great array of characters who come to life over a sweeping historical backdrop. And Cal, the main charac6/28/2010: MIddlesex is a great story, with a great array of characters who come to life over a sweeping historical backdrop. And Cal, the main character, and his/her transformation is fascinating. But the book is just a bit too long and full of detail to sustain interest over the time needed to read it! To my taste, Eugenides needed an editor with a sharper pencil. Still, the fact that it took me so long to read this isn't totally due to the book's length--life just got in the way. ...more
4/27/13: Wow, I was bowled over by this classic. As long (and sometimes verbose) as it is, it has the energy and focus of a freight train, with the mo4/27/13: Wow, I was bowled over by this classic. As long (and sometimes verbose) as it is, it has the energy and focus of a freight train, with the most extraordinary Jane as a complex, fascinating, of course unreliable, and sometimes frustrating narrator. Many a time I wanted to yell out to her--No! or Yes! as she makes her way through one bewildering and morally fraught situation after another. Brontë creates the most surprising, almost otherworldly characters in this novel, yet they somehow also ring true; they are so full, so unusual yet believable, that I just had to keep reading to find out how each of their crises gets resolved. High drama, yes, but balanced with a high degree of reflection, introspection, and consideration of each important point. I certainly see why JE has lasted so long, has inspired so much commentary, and continues (though probably not by enough people!) to be read. Long live Jane and Rochester!...more