Softcover. Sound & good copy, light to moderate rubbing/edgewear to wraps.
From the Publisher
The first words of Jeffrey Eugenides exuberant and capacious novel
Middlesex take us right to the heart of
its unique narrator: "I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a
remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again,
as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in
August of 1974."
Middlesex is the story of Cal or Calliope
Stephanides, a comic epic of a family's American life, and the
expansive history of a gene travelling down through time, starting
with a rare genetic mutation. In 1922, Desdemona and Eleutherios
("Lefty") Stephanides, brother and sister, leave the war-ravaged
village of Bithynios in Asia Minor. With their parents dead and
their village almost empty, Desdemona and Lefty have gradually been
drawn closer together and fallen in love. As the Turks invade and
the Greeks abandon the port of Smyrna, Lefty and Desdemona --
Callie's grandparents -- escape to reinvent themselves as a married
couple in America.
Jeffrey Eugenides recounts the Stephanides family's experiences
over the next fifty years with gusto and delight. Upon their
arrival in Detroit, Lefty goes to work at the Ford motor plant and
the couple live with Desdemona's cousin Sourmelina -- a woman with
her own secrets -- and her bootlegging husband Jimmy Zizmo. After
Jimmy disappears and the Stephanides' son Milton is born, Lefty
opens a speakeasy called the Zebra Room, and Desdemona goes to work
tending silkworms for the Nation of Islam.
Milton serves in the Navy in World War II and returns to marry his
cousin Tessie, Sourmelina's daughter, and the errant gene comes
closer to expression. Milton takes over the family business and
they have two children, Calliope and Chapter Eleven, but as their
fortunes rise the city's fall, and Detroit is torn by riots with
the intensity of warfare. The family moves into a new home called
Middlesex in a tony suburb, and Calliope, who had been a beautiful
little girl, is sent to private school.
So begins one of the strangest, most affecting adolescences in
literature. As time passes Calliope gets taller and gawkier without
developing into womanhood. Her classmates' bodies change and they
grow interested in boys; Callie remains flat-chested and waits in
vain for her first period. And she has a curiously intense
friendship with a girl at her school, the beautiful and confident
Obscure Object of Desire.
It is only when she has an accident at the Obscure Object's summer
house and is examined by an emergency room doctor that Callie and
her parents discover that she isn't like other girls. She is
referred to an eminent New York doctor who, after extensive
physical and psychological testing, pronounces her genetically
male: 5-alpha-reductase deficiency syndrome caused her true genital
characteristics to remain hidden until puberty. Callie is a
hermaphrodite. Since she was raised as a girl, Dr. Luce recommends
cosmetic surgery and hormone injections to make her seem more fully
But Callie refuses to be something she is not. She runs away, cuts
her hair short and hitch-hikes across the country to California,
calling himself Cal. And after some difficulties -- and
performances in a strip club in San Francisco at the height of
sexual liberation -- Cal learns to relish being both male and
female. One more unexpected family tragedy, and some old
revelations, await in Detroit.
This animated and moving story is narrated by Cal Stephanides, now
an American diplomat living in Berlin. While telling us about his
past, he fumbles towards a romantic relationship with an artist who
might be able to accept him for the unique person he is.