Friday, September 05, 2008
In the Middle of Middelsex, well a little more well along than that...
This picture, it is not me. It is entitled, "Alessio vs Middlesex" ...and it is from Hitchcockian's Photostream on flickr.
It takes a lot of work, reading...to finish Middlesex, I guess.
I am getting nearer to the end. And it still feels like one of the finest works of American fiction I have ever had the good fortune to spend time with...American fiction? International fiction? Was Lolita American fiction or international fiction about the American ideal?
There's a lot of connections here -- the necessarily circular narrative, the sense that you know how it ends before it begins (careful, I have not actually finished Middlesex, though it has ended itself several times within the same book...like Lolita which commences with its own culmination -- a feeling so succinctly captured in the film...Shelley Winters, Sellers as Clare Quilty, the nefarious, insipid and insouciant Clare Quilty -- oh my FFFFin' gosh. get in a the g'dern car and drive, Humbert Humbert. Just drive!)
But we are back to Middlesex, the early twenty-first century novel, not the quintessential twentieth century novel. neither temporal condition signifying anything really...
Eugenides says,"like Tiresias — I wanted to write about a real hermaphrodite. I wanted to be accurate about the medical facts.
[An alternate story told by the poet Pherecydes was followed in Callimachus' poem "The Bathing of Pallas"; in it, Tiresias was blinded by Athena after he stumbled onto her bathing naked. His mother, Chariclo, a nymph of Athena, begged her to undo her curse, but Athena could not; instead, she cleaned his ears, giving him the ability to understand birdsong, thus the gift of augury.]
Eugenides: I went to medical libraries and read a lot of books. The genetic condition that I found happened to be a recessive mutation that only occurs in isolated communities where there's been a certain amount of inbreeding. At that point, I saw the possibility to bring in some of my family's story, the story of Greeks coming from Asia Minor, and I realized I had a large epic.
Eugenides: Since it's about genetics, I thought the book should be a novelistic genome; that is, it should contain some of the oldest traits of writing and storytelling — it begins with epic events, old fashioned, almost Homeric ideas — and as it progresses it should gradually become a more deeply psychological, more modern novel."
Eugenides: Was it Flannery O'Connor who said that all you need to know to be a writer you learn by the time you're fourteen? Somebody.