Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Middlesex and Lonely Werewolf Girl
Okay, I admit, I've recycled these reviews from some I wrote on the LivingSocial book thing on Facebook. But these two are fantastic books, though very different to each other; Lonely Werewolf Girl is a good rainy day book; it's funny, interesting, based in a world you'll definitely recognise and, underneath a sarcastic exterior, has quite a sweet story (although expect some disappointment for selected characters ;) ). Middlesex, on the other hand, is an epic, and quite a serious book. It's certainly not a lazy read, and it maybe doesn't have what you'd term a positive outcome, but it won the Pulitzer Prize, and once you read it, you'll see, without a doubt, why it's so deserving of such an accolade.
Lonely Werewolf Girl
This is the funniest, most complex and most satisfying book I have read all year (including those in my literature courses...). I was initially drawn to the idea of a haute couture lycanthrope designer whose most lucrative client is a fire elemental who is frequently upstaged at interdimensional soirees, but was soon charmed by Daniel and Moonglow's sweet yet very realistic friendship and university attendance habits. I admit that the unprofessional cover of this book almost put me off buying it, but if you make the same mistake, you'll be losing out on a wonderfully funny and idiosyncratically British novel with a vast array of characters who are comparable only to those of J.K.Rowling. Butix and Delix (Beauty and Delicious), twin werewolves of Yum Yum Sugary Snacks fame, Malveria, fire elementa queen who is perpetually bored as a result of having vanquished all of her enemies and Markus, astonishingly attractive werewolf who has an oddly fitting penchant for women's blouses are all worth particular mention, as it is the seamless interweaving of characters which make "Lonely Werewolf Girl" a great book. Apparently it's quite hard to find; Borders only had one copy which I happened to stumble across, but if you can get to it through Amazon then it's definitely worth the purchase. It has elements of romance, comedy, tragedy, fantasy and murder, but don't expect the werewolf version of Twilight; if anything, it's like a reeled-in version of Terry Pratchett. In fact, I think you may even see Death wandering around in there somewhere. There is a lot of sarcasm in Millar's humour, and when you mix that with werewolves, how can you go wrong? ;)
This is an astounding novel. A family epic with an unusual alteration, Middlesex records the life and times of the Stephanides family from 1922, in Greece under attack by Turkey, to late 1970s, where the family's bloodline potentially ends. Narrated by Calliope, later Cal, Eugenides' Pulitzer Prize winning novel centres on the cultivation of the recessive gene which ultimately results in Calliope, a girl, becoming a male, as a result of genetic haemaphroditism. Middlesex takes leaps and bounds to across countries and eras, but maintains the essential focus on the characteristics and relationships of the family it centres on. With an emphasis on the tragic side of the incestuous relationships which produced the recessive gene, the novel presents a story unlikely to be reproduced in writing style, tone and narrative plot. In reading this book, you will find sympathy where you did not expect to, understanding where you thought you had none, and a respect for the difficulty some overcome in life. Middlesex is a lengthy novel, but it could not retain its valour if it was any shorter. It is an exceptional exploration of family, identity and gender whose ultimate outcomes are inverted with subtlety and expertise. Middlesex's unforgettable narrator, Cal, is a character who is likely to join the ranks of those who subtly change our lives, and whose story remains a superbly crafted piece.
Eugenides also wrote The Virgin Suicides, which I am yet to read. But I will be very soon. :)
Back with more later.
Thanks for reading!