Once, when I was 13, my father came home early from work and asked to see my yearbook. It was the last day of junior high, and I remember that I leaned against the kitchen counter, cracking my knuckles, and watched as he slowly turned the glossy pages, reading all of the comments that had been written by my friends.
He was silent the entire time he was reading, but when he finished, he handed me back my yearbook and said, "I loved being a teenager, but I wouldn't be one now for anything in the world."
I thought I was going to receive a lecture that evening, but I didn't. To this day, I have wondered what spurred on his sudden interest in my social life and my friends. Had he read an article about the rise of teen suicide
My father had been a teenager in the late 1950s; his kids became teenagers in the 1980s. I can only imagine it was a very different experience for him.
He was born 20 years before the author of this book, Jeffrey Eugenides, but they both grew up in the U.S., in the Midwest, and both of them experienced childhoods that were heavily influenced by the auto industry.
They also both watched a lot of changes occur in the U.S., not the least of these being the confusing shifts in the lives of American adolescents.
And I wish, wish, WISH that my father had discovered Mr. Eugenides and this UNBELIEVABLE, FANTASTIC, INCREDIBLY ORIGINAL debut novel before he passed, because he'd have been shaking his head in a stunned disbelief.
Dad never knew Mr. Eugenides, but I do, and his Pulitzer-Prize winning Middlesex just about knocked me out. He's one hell of a writer, and he seems to capture the decline of American society without judgement, rant or sociological nudge.
He's a storyteller who tells his tales, these deceptively simple stories that make you stop whatever you're doing, curl your toes, bite your nails, giggle into your hands or shout. . . HOW IS THIS YOUR DEBUT! HOW IS THIS YOUR DEBUT, MR. EUGENIDES!! NO, SERIOUSLY, HOW IS THIS YOUR DEBUT
And then he makes you cover your eyes with a cold compress and weep quietly into your pillow. . . I don't hate you, Mr. Eugenides. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I don't hate you, Jeffrey. In fact, I love you. Oh, I love you, Jeffrey. Oh, Jeffrey, I love you. . . as your family looks on in horror.
People, I could write essay after essay about this book. I could stick quote after quote of brilliant prose on here. . . but all I want to do is tell you that after I finished it this evening, I could only curl up in a tight ball of jealousy and awe and suck my thumb.