This is the Life of a Redhead

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Excerpt - "Middlesex" Jeffrey Eugenides

This novel has been recommended to my by many people. I can think of three off the top of my head, and I'm pretty sure there's a few others who've passed the title along to me. Reading this in such proximity to One Hundred Years of Solitude had me worried. I didn't think I would be able to keep up with another generational novel. Well, sometimes we have to admit that we're wrong. (I could probably do a whole rant about my pride for admitting mistakes. Let's avoid that, for now.)

Anyways, I checked out the novel from a library, and I am frustrated that I cannot underline passages and write notes in the margins. I am extremely tempted to vandalize the book, but dog-earring the corners is as brave as I'm going to get. There was one passage, however, that I could not ignore. Thus, I am posting it here, to share with you, and to cement online for me.

pg. 217

"Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by 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 morality 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 my 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 the subjective experience of being part of events. Here's where my story splits, divides, undergoes meiosis. Already the world feels heavier, now I'm a part of it. I'm talking about bandages and sopped cotton, the smell of mildew in movie theaters, and of all the lousy cats and their stinking litter boxes, of rain on city streets when the dust comes up and the old Italian men take their folding chairs inside. Up until now it hasn't been my world. Not my America. But here we are, at last.

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