Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2003In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry-blonde classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them - along with Callie's failure to develop physically - leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.
The explanation for this shocking state of affairs is a rare genetic mutation - and a guilty secret - that have followed Callie's grandparents from the crumbling Ottoman Empire to Prohibition-era Detroit and beyond, outlasting the glory days of the Motor City, the race riots of 1967, and the family's second migration, into the foreign country known as suburbia. Thanks to the gene, Callie is part girl, part boy. And even though the gene's epic travels have ended, her own odyssey has only begun.
Spanning eight decades - and one unusually awkward adolescence - Jeffrey Eugenides' long-awaited second novel is a grand, original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire.
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©2002 Jeffrey Eugenides; (P)2002 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
Audie Award Winner, Fiction (Unabridged), 2003
" "Impressive [and] wonderfully engaging." (The New York Times)
"Eugenides proves that he is not only a unique voice in modern literature but also well versed in the nature of the human heart. Highly recommended." (Library Journal )
"A towering achievement...a story that manages to be both illuminating and transcendent...[Eugenides] has emerged as the great American writer many of us suspected him of being." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
"Not only are his interpretations of the characters astonishingly credible, but his internalization of the narrative is nothing short of amazing." (Publishers Weekly)
I began listening to the book and about 15 minutes into it I was kicking myself for downloading a bummer of a book.
I thought I had erased it from my reader, but discovered it was still there one day when another book I'd been listening to was over. I was out and about and had nothing else to do so I listened to this one.... and another 30 minutes later I found it starting to grow on me.
That means it took nearly 45 minutes to get into this book, but once I did, I never looked back. I listened to the rest over the next couple of days, not wanting to take off the headphones unless I had to.
If you'd have asked me during the first 30 minutes, I'd have given you a rating of 2. AS it is I give it a rating of 4 and was glad I waited it out.
If you listen to this book while driving to or from work beware... You're going to wish you hit a traffic jam. This is one of the best Audiobooks I've ever listened to. At first I thought Kristoffer Tabori was the person who wrote the book. His accents, voices and naration are second to none. And the book itself deserves the best narration possible. This book will leave you laughing an crying. It will make you want to camp out in your car.
Poet, Writer, Novice Planetary Scientist, Musician, Hooligan, Former Audience Guy, Protector of Stupid Princesses.
I was hesitant to read this book because of the subject matter. My fear was that it would be an endless lecture on the problems the transgendered community face in daily life. Although I am sympathetic, I did not want to read a novel about this subject. Middlesex is a book about people. It is brilliant and powerful and broad in scope. There is something here for everyone. The synopsis blurb describing this novel does not do it justice. It is a wonderful book.
Few of the reviews I have read on Audible.com have done justice to this magnificent narrative. "Middlesex", Jeffrey Eugenides second novel, tells the story of Calliope, a male-pseudo hermaphrodite. But the novel does not deal with a narrow political issue or become a polemic and gender or sex. Rather, the novel uses the narrator's peculiar genetic make-up (and Greek ancestry) to boil down humanity and find the common core we all share--love, sorrow, life, and death.
This novel is truly well written. Eugenides has a knack for weaving a fascinating story around historical events and changing social attitudes and customs. The narrative has just the right amount of digression--musing on such topics as race, Greek mythology and the history of Detroit. Though many authors try to use the technique of lingering of the details of a narrative, few succeed, and fewer still are able to make relevant digressions which build on the characters in the story. Eugenides succeeds at this admirably.
Though nearly so, the book is not perfect. There are times when the eccentricities of the characters become grating on the nerves, and times when such oddities seem unrealistic. But perhaps these flaws are meant to add the comic to this modern Greek tragedy. Another flaw, as I see it, of the production is the cheesy music thrown in at the most poignant moments of the narratives.
In all, this is an excellent production, and well worth the time and money. Another bonus is that listeners have the chance to listen to a Pulitzer winning narrative from an author who will likely produce other great novels (if you haven't read "The Virgin Suicides," by Eugenides, you should).
I enjoy historical fiction and was interested in the setting of Grosse Pointe Michigan which I have visited. Thirty minutes into the tape I started to doubt my choice but decided to stick with it awhile longer. It was well worth it! Don't let the unusual subject matter deter you. This is a compelling story, beautifully written with an excellent narrator. It will linger on my mind for some time.
I thouroughly enjoyed this novel both for it's content and narrator. I was packing to move, and once I got well enough into it, I lay on the couch for hours listening. Packing my apartment was delayed for three days. Eugenides' painstaking detail and insight unravel one human experience. It seemed as though I were listening to an autobiography. Tabori brought each character alive with distiction. I recommend.
The book is fascinating, well-researched, many-faceted, entertaining, and immensely engrossing. The reader is a prolific actor with an impressive resume of non-starring roles who has an incredible talent for characterization, accents, attitudes, and, especially, effective storytelling. The audio quality is also top-notch. Is this maybe the best audiobook I've ever enjoyed? Absolutely!
During the first few "pages" of this book i thought I would not be able to follow it because of the speed it was being read. Once the story got underway I was hooked. Don't let the suject matter of this book put you off. The charaters pull you into a world of Greek heritage and the lives of immigrants in the states. Any sexual reference is tastfully written. But if you have strong views against transgendered people I don't recomend you read this book. But then again perhaps you should.......
My boss insisted I listen to this book IMMEDIATELY - she wanted to share it and discuss it. It is a book you loathe coming to an end because each character is fascinating and the story so rich in details, truth, and humor.
Even without the hinge of the character's hermaphroditism, this is a great story with unforgettable characters and scenes - from the grandparents falling in love and escaping from Turkey to the parents upward mobility to the true-to-life teen angst. The author captures exactly what it was like to be a girl in the 1970's - right down to the shampoo, bath powder, etc.
The reader is a likewise a true talent, he brings to life each character - I loved listening to him.
If the hinge of the story puts you off, don't let it. This is not an "issues" book, although by the end you will have a deep appreciation of intersexed individuals. And you will have enjoyed the most entertaining book I have listened to - EVER.
I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
I absolutely LOVED this book. The characters are so human, gloriously flawed to perfection and unforgettable. I did not like the narration though. It is so overacted that it's ridiculous and I was distracted from the beauty of the words by Kristoffer Tabori. If another edition comes out, then maybe try it, but there are these strange musical interludes that cover up to words and don't fit in with the story at all. Sometimes, the music just pops up in the middle of a sentence for NO reason. It was highly distracting. With a different narrator and no music this audio book would have been a home run, 5 stars and so much more enjoyable. While there are some readers I would go to over and over again, I will avoid another book read by Tabori. In a few years, I intend to revisit this wonderful work by Jeffrey Eugenides in print to see if it is a better experience (I just don't see how it couldn't be!) and I will read everything this author writes. So, I had to take a star away for the terrible narration and production. Hopefully they won't try to make this book into a movie...because I get the feeling that it just wouldn't work. If you are at all interested in reading this Pulitzer prize winning novel I would urge you to get it in print!
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