Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Middle Sex

Title: Middlesex
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Bookmark: Half of a postcard from Howard Hanna bragging about how they sold a house near us and how they can help us find the right buyer for our home. We rent. Through Howard Hanna. Morons.

Calliope (also, "Callie" or "Cal") Stephanides tells the story of how she came to have a defective gene. She starts with her grandparents who were born in Greece and then forced to leave when the Turks ransacked the country. They were married on the ship over to America. What no one but Cal knows is that Desdemona and Lefty Stephanides were actually brother and sister. No one told them the reason the church forbade incestuous relationships. They did not know that babies born of such parents often had problems, defects, conditions.

Left and Desdemona stay with their cousin, Sourmelina (a woman actually attracted to women more so than to men) and her husband, Zizmo. Both couples conceive a child on the same night.

Milton and Tessie are born.

Then Milton and Tessie marry, thus keeping poor Cal's defective gene in the family.

While growing up, Callie soon realizes something isn't quite right with her body. She also finds herself attracted to females.

Then, when she is 14, she finds out she is a hermaphrodite. A male, but with nether regions that haven't, and won't, completely develop.

Her parents take her to a specialist who determines Callie's raising has led to her being a girl. Surgery is scheduled. In a meeting with Callie one day, the doctor steps out of the office and Callie reads her chart. There she learns that she is really more of a male. So the newly self-designated "Cal" runs away, hitchhiking across the country to California. There, after a few failed attempts to live on his own, he becomes part of a freak show that includes another hermaphrodite and an individual in the midst of the male and female sex transition (Ellie and her electric Eel!). They bare all for the entertainment of the paying customers.

Then the freak show is raided by the police and Cal returns home.

And, of course, Cal has never been able to have a meaningful relationship. There is always the barrier of his secret. Then he meets Julie Kikuchi. Will she be able to love Cal once he reveals his secret? Read the book to find out.


posted by Kate at 4:55 PM


Blogger reyn said...

Julie is Cal's long-lost twin, isn't she?

12/21/2007 1:17 AM  

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