current reading

I was called for jury duty yesterday, so I had the opportunity to do quite a bit of reading. I'm currently in the middle of Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex, which has really grown on me. Here's a passage I especially liked:

Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in "sadness," "joy," or "regret." Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic traincar constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy." I'd like to show how "intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members" connects with "the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age." I'd like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well as for "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar." (p217)

At its best, Eugenides's writing is lushly exuberant in this way. Through his hermaphrodite narrator in this novel, Eugenides gently complicates not just the obvious binary of gender, but all sorts of other categories used to describe, constrain, and contain us.