Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002). Jeffrey Eugenidess new novel Middlesex is a radical departure from his successful debut, The Virgin Suicides. The difference smacks of a younger siblings revolt against the oppressive accomplishments of the first-born. While The Virgin Suicides traced one year on a suburban block, Middlesex is a multi-generational epic, encompassing a Greek-American immigration tale and a coming-of-age story, all narrated by a hermaphrodite, Cal Stephanides, nee Calliope.
The opening story in Gabriel Brownsteins nicely crafted collection is as brief and potent as a slap. Our narrator, Davey, recalls the day when an unhinged neighbor, Dr. Schlachter, launched his son Solly from the roof of their apartment building in a pair of makeshift wings. The modern-day Icarus glided over treetops, toward Riverside Park, and the look on his face "passed not from ecstasy to terror but from fear to exultation.