What a book. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a fictional autobiography of a hermaphrodite named Cal/Callie. That Eugenides can write a book. I kept having to remind myself it was fiction, even though the details were unfathomable. There were passages I had to read aloud to Bob because they were so damn funny and well written. Here's one of those passages:
Even out of context, it grabs you by the shoulders and yells in your face. Don't let the Oprah Book status dissuade you from reading this book. It was around a Pulitzer Prize winner long before she got her mitts on it.
At 6:23 a.m., the Princess telephone in my bedroom rang and I picked it up. It was Jimmy Fioretos, who in his panic mistook my voice for my mother's. "Tessie, tell Milt to get down to the restaurant. The coloreds are rioting!"
"Stephanides residence," I continued politely, as I'd been taught. "Callie Speking."
"Callie? Jesus. Honey, let me speak to your father?"
"Just one minute please." I put down the pink phone, walked into my parents' bedroom and shook my father awake.
"It's Mr. Fioretos."
"Jimmy? Christ, what does he want?" He lifted his cheek, in which could be discerned the imprint of a gun barrel.
"He says somebody's rioting."
At which point, my father jumped out of bed. As though he still weighed one hundred and forty pounds instead of one ninety, Milton flipped gymnastically into the air and landed on his feet, completely unaware of both his nakedness and his dream-filled morning erection. (So it was that the Detroit riots will always be connected in my mind with my first sight of the aroused male genitalia. Even worse, they were my father's, and worst of all, he was reaching for a gun. Sometimes a cigar is not a cigar.) Tessie was up now, too, shouting at Milton not to go, and Milton was hopping on one foot, trying to put on his pants; and before long everybody was into it.
"I tell you this what happen!" Desdemona screamed at Milton as he ran down the stairs. "Do you fix the church for St. Christopher? No!"
"Leave it to the police, Milt," Tessie pleaded.
And Chapter Eleven: "When are you going to be back, Dad? You promised to take me to Radio Shack today."
And me, still squeezing my eyes shut to erase what I'd seen: "I think I'll go back to bed now."
The only person who didn't say something was Lefty, because in all the confusion, he couldn't find his chalkboard.