According to Julie


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I read Middlesex earlier this fall, and now I think the author Jeffrey Eugenides could tell me any kind of story and I would love it. I won’t go into detail when it comes to plot. The Amazon review basically sums up my own thoughts on the book – including the sadness I felt when it was almost over. So here is an excerpt.

Desdemona had found Lefty on our kitchen floor, lying next to his overturned coffee cup. She knelt beside him and pressed her ear to his chest. When she heard no heartbeat, she cried out his name. Her wail echoed off the kitchen’s hard surfaces: the toaster, the oven, the refrigerator. Finally she collapsed against his chest. In the silence that followed, however, Desdemona felt a strange emotion rising inside her. It spread in the space between her panic and grief. It was like a gas inflating her. Soon her eyes snapped open as she recognized the emotion: it was happiness. Tears were running down her face, she was already berating God for taking her husband from her, but on the other side of these proper emotions was an altogether improper relief. This was it: the worst thing. For the first time in her life my grandmother had nothing to worry about.

Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered in single words. I don’t believe in "sadness", "joy," or "regret." Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one’s fantasy." I’d like to show how "intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members" connects with "the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age." I’d like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well as for "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar." I’ve never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I’ve entered the story, I need them more than ever. I can’t just sit back and watch from a distance anymore. From here on in, everything I’ll tell you is colored by subjective experience of being part of events.

From Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, (pages 216-217 in the 2003 Bloomsbury paperback edition)

One thought on “Middlesex

  1. Pingback: Come back soon! I’m writing. | According to Julie

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