2006 was truly my year of enlightenment.
I directed myself away from reality television to dedicate more time to reading and writing.
(I allowed the escape of Poker, i should note)
For the most part, the two legs of my enlightenment worked great together:
The more I read - the more I wrote [and vice versa].
The writing side of my enlightenment began to grow out of my control in the last quarter of the year. More people were finding this blog and providing me with great encouragement. The scales of reading and writing were not in balance. I began to think I was becoming a good writer.
Thankfully, here came Jeffrey Eugenides:
Sometime between 2 or 3 am this morning I realized I will never be a writer. No matter how many more coworkers say, "You're talents are wasted here." No matter how many more times a family member says, "Tom - you're creative - I need your help with this."
I know I can not make a living writing.
This is because I had fallen into the trap that is named "Middlesex."
"Middlesex" is the greatest work of literature I have ever read in my life.
It may not be my most favorite book I've ever read - but in my opinion it is the best written.
I woke up yesterday (Dec. 30) on page 291 of the 527-page novel. For an addictive reader as myself, it was not a good sign that I had over a month invested in this novel and had only gotten to roughly past halfway. With the exception of "The DiVinci Code" this book was the most widely read between my friends and coworkers. Each wanting to know where I was in the book, and what I thought of it. I told them that I had no idea why it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and didn't quite get a hold of what was in the mix. I think every one of them knew I was about to fall into the trap. No one bothered to provide a nudge to keep me reading. Somehow they all knew.
Especially one of my best friends (and most avid reader I know) had to refrain from a reaction when he saw me struggle through the first quarter of the book in the airport. He liked the fact I had chosen such an epic to close out my 12 books in 12 months goal.
Back to why I can't be a writer, and why Eugenides is so good:
"Middlesex" is narrated by a hermaphrodite living as a man through the eyes of a childhood raised as a girl. From what I can tell in a short bio I read of him, Eugenides was neither raised as a girl or is a hermaphrodite. Sometime before 3 am this morning I realized that I'm only able to write as a 27 year old single guy. And pretty soon, I'll only be able to write as a 28 year old single guy.
At 5:28 am I finished "Middlesex." I gain intrinsic knowledge from HOW i read books. In the three day Easter weekend I had started and finished the alcohol love affair that was "Smashed." I endured a 3 month pursuit of Selby's "Last Exit To Brooklyn." I made short, expedient, and a near robot efficiency quick read of "Attention. Deficit. Disorder."
"Middlesex" was read much like "Positively Fifth Street." (which makes harmony in my conscience because P5S was the first of the 12 read this year). Each had struggling beginnings but out of nowhere gained a momentum that refused to be stopped. P5S was finished while home sick from work, at the end of a 4 hour marathon session of reading. Whereas the early parts of P5S were never brought back into focus when complete - "Middlesex" was as clear as crystal when I turned the page to find blankness staring back on the nonexistent page 530. The 11 p.m. - 5:30 am reading stretch was a new personal best.
I woke up 6 or so hours later completely refreshed, the near-full*** comprehension of an American Epic with multiple angles of view from the same source spanning multiple generations in two continents. While I had a pause before 3 am on how Eugenides put in my amateur place - I write this 12 hours later wanting to get better. Not because of him, not because of whoever reads this... but for me.
Special thanks to my fellow associate Traci, for loaning me her copy of Middlesex. I'm happy to be able to return it in the same condition. (The 12 books in 12 months did have one casualty - the busted spine of Last Exit To Brooklyn was given back to it's owner on life support)
***I want to expand on my near-full comprehension of this work. Please let me know if you have read "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides so we can discuss it. Even better, start reading it now and let me know when you're done.
Happy New Year everybody. Thanks for helping this year become a page turner (and if you didn't expect a lazy pun, you need to realize who you're reading... an amateur).