Is this coincidence or what?
The Boston Globe for Sunday, Sep. 8, 2002 has on page E7 a review of
the novel "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides.
The review is entitled "Both sides now" and is by Gail Caldwell.
The blurb for the review is:
In the masterful "Middlesex," Jeffrey Eugenides explores the apparent
opposites of male and female, myth and history.
The full review can be found online at:
Here are the first two paragraphs:
Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" is a big, cheeky, splendid novel, and
its confidence is part of its success, because it goes places few
narrators would dare to tread. Traditional in form but radically outre
in subject, it's something of a poseur--an old-fashioned story
camouflaged in hipster threads, brandishing leather and body piercings
but reliant upon ancient conventions as well as a tender heart. Even
the allusions to George Eliot's "Middlemarch" are more sendup than
boast, for the milieu depicted here is no English village; instead,
the three-generational family line of the novel begins in Greece,
zigzags mercilessly to Detroit, and then lands in contemporary
Berlin. The muse holding forth at its center presumes to be a girl
named Calliope, who can float in and out of her omniscient-narrator
position as effortlessly as she does her khakis and unisex polo
shirts--a quick-change artist if ever there was one, in spirit and
body both. Namesake of that sweet-sister Muse in charge of epic
poetry, Calliope has at least as much in common with
Hermaphroditus--the classical figure born a boy, seduced by the love
of a female nymph, then changed forever into a blend of the lover and
But if "Middlesex," too, is a bit of a cross-dresser, burying itself
in the finery of the avant-garde while in actuality clinging to
customs of the country, it's never coy about that coupling. Calliope
(eventually, Cal) announces her girl-to-boy transition in the opening
paragraph of the novel, informing us that she was born Calliope Helen
Stephanides in 1960, only to find herself as a himself 14 years
later. Now 41, Cal is with the State Department and stationed in
Berlin, where he's struggling with how much to tell the object (a she)
of his current affection. That's a mere footnote to the
near-mythological past, where Callie/Cal's destiny was written long
before birth and where most of the story will take place.