Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Author: Jeffrey Eugenides

First line: 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.

Why you should read this book: Calliope Stephanides's story is a sweeping epic, germinated by a mild little chromosomal mutation centuries before her birth, muddied by the close relationships of her immediate ancestors, and protecting, as the shell of the bivalve encloses the muscle, Callie's remarkable, ambiguous genitals. From her grandparents' fiery escape from the old country to her upper-middle-class suburban childhood, she recounts in remarkable detail the factors that formed her mind, her body, and her spirit, touching on the finer points of silkworm farming, rum running, and franchising hot dog stands while creeping closer and closer to the heart of gender identity. A completely gripping novel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Your own ambiguous genitals were mutilated by the acolytes of Dr. John Money in the 1970s.

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