The writing is labored and the pace is slow but the lengthy descriptive phrases added little to the book. I don't usually mind slow plot lines. In fact, I love Edith Wharton, the queen of flowery writing and glacial pace. The characters just weren't fleshed out enough to be likeable or warrant the authors indulgent slowness. In the end the climax was dull since the characters were such cold, distant figures.
I enjoyed Middlesex. Much less naval-gazing.
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
Normally, I finish the books I start, especially when, like this one, they are well written and well narrated.
I made it half way through this put book and put it away in disgust. I didn't want any more of it in my head.
This isn't because I felt too emotionally distraught by experiencing a novel that centres around the death by suicide of five young sisters. There is no empathy for those women in this novel. The young women here are displayed as curiosities, barely distinguishable from one another, alien to the boy/man describing them, important because of the impact they have on the boys who observe them rather than because of any intrinsic worth. They are the thunderstorm the boys stand in. How the boys felt in the rain is what Jeffrey Eugenides is concerned with, not what it means to be a storm.
The book is set in an American White Middle Class suburb in the 1950's and is told, twenty years after the fact, by a man who was a boy at the time of the suicides and who is still sufficiently obsessed by the events to be investigating them, not so much, it seems, to unravel a mystery as to revive the taste of it in his mouth.
Eugenides writes well. This does not endear his novel to me because he chooses to deploy his skill not to write an elegy that gives meaning to the suicides of the young women, but to write an almost masturbatory reminiscence of what it felt like to be a white boy with no first-hand knowledge of girls, lusting and longing for the Lisbon Sisters, without actually being able to see them as people.
The era itself, including its racism and its sexual repression, is presented with unquestioning love. There seems to be more regret in the author's mind for the loss of a time when nice families raked leaves off their lawns in the Fall than there is for the death of any or all of the Lisbon sisters.
The adult narrator, recalling his own reactions as a boy, seems to long for a time when girls were a mystery and boys spent hours talking to each other about what it might be like to touch them.
The book seemed to me to be steeped in a repressed but deeply felt homoeroticism. The description of Trip Fontaine and his encounter with Lux Lisbon is a good example of this. Trip is described with a tenderness and admiration, bordering on love, both as a beautiful youth and as a middle-aged man, wrecked by drug use. Lux, in her short, frenzied, assault on Trip, is presented as a threat, an unleashed animal, something alien and dangerous and far from human.
The longer I listened to this well written, well narrated book, the more I was repulsed by its nostalgia for ignorance and its voyeuristic delight in treating women as an alien, not quite human, species.
Like all good story tellers, Eugenides is a skilled manipulator. He uses the passive, unquestioning, but articulate romanticism of the narrator to lull the reader into an uncritical assessment of this world and the people in it. He dresses his book with literary allusions, from character names that are amusingly descriptive, through selected quotations from poetry, to a stylistic nod at Steinbeck, and he sets this all back far enough in time that the use of tinted lenses to view the world is seen as appropriate.
Unfortunately, I am repelled by this particular manipulation. It is at best hollow and uncritical and at worst sets out to eulogize a male view of the world that I despise.
O.K., so he's a Pulitzer Prize winner. That wasn't my decision. Putting his book away halfway through was. Life is too short to spend on well expressed ideas that curdle the soul.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
What an awful book. I only read the whole thing because I loved his novel Middlesex. But this book was terrible -- its plot (the suicides of five sisters and how the community stood by), its snail's pace (especially for the audio narration), its cold hearted tone. Awful....truly awful.
This audiobook was hard to get through. I wish I had read the reviews before selecting it!
Having watched the movie, I was not looking for a surprise. Rather I was hoping for the book to be much better.
The narrator's voice is painfully monotone and the speed is unbearably SLOW. I tried changing the speed to the 1.5 as previously suggested by another reader. That helped somewhat but it does not make it worth the time.
I did =)
I read Middlesex before reading this book and I can see a difference in the quality of the story. This may be an ok read for a young person but definitely not worth a credit or the time it takes to listen to it. Just watch the movie, you'll enjoy it more than listening to this!