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Small Bodies

Wendy Brandmark

5 August 1993
Theory of War 
by Joan Brady.
Deutsch, 209 pp., £14.99, January 1993, 0 233 38810 9
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The Virgin Suicides 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Bloomsbury, 250 pp., £15.99, June 1993, 0 7475 1466 6
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... the metaphor’s so much a part of the language no-body pays attention to it anymore.’ Through Jonathan the reader may feel what it means to lose one’s bearings, to be made less than human. In JeffreyEugenides’s The Virgin Suicides the Lisbon sisters have taken the American dream of a life unblemished by experience to its extreme. Their suicide is an escape and a rebellion, the girls thwarting ...


Christopher Beha: Jeffrey Eugenides

6 October 2011
The Marriage Plot 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Fourth Estate, 406 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 00 744129 7
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... This is a strange book, but deceptively so: one of its strangest features is to appear to be aggressively conventional. In his short, spare first novel, The Virgin Suicides, JeffreyEugenides used an elegiac first-person-plural narrative to turn the deaths of five suburban sisters into a myth of postwar American decay. His Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Middlesex was much baggier, a ...

Small Crocus, Big Kick

Daniel Soar: Jeffrey Eugenides

3 October 2002
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Bloomsbury, 529 pp., £16.99, October 2002, 0 7475 6023 4
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... will become Izmir (‘modern-high rises, amnesiac boulevards, teeming sweatshops, a Nato headquarters’); Cal will be a pseudo-hermaphrodite, suffering from 5-alpha-reductase deficiency syndrome. JeffreyEugenides does both background and foreground in all the necessary detail. He flips the switch from near to far; particularly telling moments encompass both, in artful combination. The oddest thing ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Second Novel Anxiety Syndrome

22 August 2002
... of Harry Potter behind them, have bought the UK rights to the follow-up for just under a million quid. The pubescent magic-magnate is also stumping up the cash for Middlesex, the second novel by JeffreyEugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides. (Note to aspiring bestsellerateurs: when it comes to the title, the formula is definite article, adjective, noun. Eugenides is bold to break the rule ...

Would I have heard of you?

Lauren Oyler: ‘The Female Persuasion’

21 June 2018
The Female Persuasion 
by Meg Wolitzer.
Chatto, 464 pp., £14.99, June 2018, 978 1 78474 236 2
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... enters the public imagination and the current conversation – tends to feel peculiarly, disproportionately male.’ She doesn’t disguise that she too wants a spot up there. When novelists like JeffreyEugenides – who was in a writing workshop with Wolitzer at Brown – cover ‘perceived female subject matter’, they are taken seriously; their seriousness is signalled by the length of their ...

How so very dear

Joshua Cohen: Ben Marcus

21 June 2012
The Flame Alphabet: A Novel 
by Ben Marcus.
Granta, 289 pp., £16.99, June 2012, 978 1 84708 622 8
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... poison, even if it kills the body that I’m wearing.’ Born in 1967 in Chicago, Marcus is a writer in an antique mode: the modern. Even those writers of his cohort, such as Jonathan Franzen and JeffreyEugenides, who publicly cursed the prophets Gaddis, Barthelme, Barth and Coover, forsaking the structural feints and syntactical feats of the 1960s and 1970s, would be mauled by the millennium, by a ...

What’s wrong with that man?

Christian Lorentzen: Donald Antrim

20 November 2014
The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories 
by Donald Antrim.
Granta, 158 pp., £12.99, November 2014, 978 1 84708 649 5
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... appeared in the New Yorker since 1999. He’s invariably linked with a group of US fiction writers around his age that includes the late David Foster Wallace, George Saunders, Jonathan Franzen and JeffreyEugenides. There are a few things that set Antrim apart: he’s Southern; his strongest affinity to a writer in the previous generation is to Donald Barthelme, not Don DeLillo; he’s the least ...

No Magic, No Metaphor

Fredric Jameson: ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’

14 June 2017
... but a flight from the family; the picaresque novel turns on a hero who never had a family; and as for the novel of adultery, its relation to the family speaks for itself. Someone, I think it was JeffreyEugenides, has claimed that the family novel today is only possible in the non-West, and I think there is a profound insight here. We may think of Mahfouz, for example, but I would argue that it is ...

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