I'm almost finished with Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex. I've wanted to read it for a few years, and tried about two years ago but gave up. I can't remember why or what I was thinking because it's a great read.

What really gets me is the scope of the novel. Eugenides starts a few generations back, showing how his gal/guy Cal wound up a hermaphrodite (genetically). In fact, he maybe spends too much time on back story! I'm on the last twenty pages of the 500-something page book, and Cal's self-discovery and acceptance seem truncated. Hard to believe but I want more.

I found Eugenides' ambition inspiring and am actively stealing, er borrowing, from the book. Not content! But my WIP is also about a girl/woman with unusual characteristics--and, because of Middlesex, I decided to write the whole ding-dang back story, from birth on. She's born under a toxic cloud in Hackensack, NJ, thus giving rise to her supernatural powers.

Stylistically I don't write at all like Eugenides but his willingness to go big, broad and tangential is liberating. Sometimes I try too hard to be tight, concise and poetic. My mantra is typically less is more.

But why not be like Whitman? Long lines and sentences and biographies and histories spilling everywhere. Dag-blabbit: This first draft is gonna be sloppy-big!
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