I like authors that aren’t too prolific, it gives me a fighting chance at keeping up to date with their body of work. To this end, I have now read all three of Jeffrey Eugenides’ novels. I read The Virgin Suicides straight after the film came out, so some years ago now, I then read Middlesex and The Marriage Plot in fairly quick succession.
After reading Middlesex, I wrote in my book diary how I was astounded by, and deeply impressed with, Eugenides’ ability to draw women, particularly young women. The Marriage Plot is certainly no exception, it’s central character being freshly graduated from college. However, I had new things to be impressed by this time. I read the first half of this novel in Madrid and whilst there saw an interview with Eugenides pasted up on the wall of a bookshop. It was translated into Spanish, from an interview with The New York Times. In it he said of the nine year gap between each of his novels that, simply, he enjoys the writing process. Nice. After reading that extract from the interview, I made the assumption that part of this writing process is research, as the detail in Middlesex and The Marriage Plot regarding their respective subject matters is exhaustive. For The Marriage Plot, a whole course on semiotics and Deconstruction, followed by the secret life of yeast, a trip through the religions of the world and their modern relevance and finishing up with a case study in manic-depression.
My only criticism is, due to the novel’s title, people thought I was reading a self-help book, something akin to ‘The Rules’ I’m guessing. The same happened to me when I read Carver’s, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love when I was merely sixteen years old. Perhaps it isn’t the titles, perhaps I just look desperate to get hitched, but – you know – you should never judge a book by it’s cover.