Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Eugenides Trinity

Top to bottom: The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, and The Marriage Plot
Jeffrey Eugenides has quickly become one of my favorite authors. His books balance suspense but without becoming unrealistic and always stay down to earth. His writing style is very visually appealing- sensory and not overwhelmingly wordy. I like his books because they are generally an easier lift a lot of other things that I read (for school, etc) but they have really interesting messages and are by no means simple or juvenile. He is a character writer, certainly, and you many be disappointed if you are looking for a very "plot-heavy" book, so keep that in mind.
*I have linked to the goodreads of each if you would like some more story details- they aren't so fresh in my mind. Here are just some of my opinions on the books*

The Virgin Suicides: An snapshot of a suburban childhood outside of Detroit. This novel is what drew me to Eugenides in the first place. The strengths here are definitely the development of the characters- the Lisbon sisters and the teenage boys that follow their downward trajectory. The sisters become awash in observation, harder and harder to pin down, and the boys are confused by their association and struggle to piece together what they see. I found that the ending was rather shocking, not unlike an ice bath, but I'm also fairly sure this was the intended dramatic effect. The pacing is kind of strange but still it is an (if not quite enjoyable or tragic) bittersweet read.

Middlesex: My personal favorite of the three. It tells the story of a intersex adolescent's coming of age, but also the tale of her whole family, generation upon generation. It is evident that Eugenides leans heavily on his Greek upbringing for the background of the main character. It is modern-day epic if ever there was one, stretching through the years and complicated issues that each age seems to face. The lack of plot found in all of his novels seems to "work" especially well here; it becomes more of a romp than focused on any particular character in a very intriguing and effective way. It must be said that this book forever changed my idea of the word "crocus."

The Marriage Plot: By far his least mature and developed of the three. Simply from the writing, I would have thought that this was his first novel, but it turned out to be his most recent. Personally, I found the characters unnecessarily narcissistic and self-absorbed, thus a little bit off-putting.

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