Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Jeffrey Eugenides



On Friday night, I get the pleasure of hearing the novelist Jeffrey Eugenides speak as part of the Dallas Museum of Art's Art & Letters Distinguished Writers Live series. I'm a huge fan of Mr. Eugenides' work. Each of his three books are magical and lovely in very different ways. Rather than attempt to sum up the beauty of his novels, I'm going to let the DMA do it for me.

Mr. Eugenides' first novel, The Virgin Suicides, catapulted him into the literary spotlight. The book became an instant bestseller and was adapted into a feature film by director Sofia Coppola, starring Kathleen Turner and Kirsten Dunst.

A decade later, Eugenides garnered a Pulitzer Prize for his next novel, Middlesex. The novel tells the story of Calliope Stephanides, three generations of her Greek-American family, and the guilty family secret they have been hiding. People magazine praised the book as “daring and inventive . . . an epic. . . . This feast of a novel is thrilling in the scope of its imagination and surprising in its tenderness.”

Jeffrey Eugenides will discuss the body of his work as well as his long-awaited new novel, The Marriage Plot. Set in the early 80s, it tells the story of Madeleine Hanna, a senior at Brown University and devotee of classic literature. Only when curiosity gets the best of her does she enroll in a Semiotics class, a bastion of postmodern liberalism, and meet handsome and mysterious Leonard Bankhead. Completing a love triangle is Madeleine’s friend Mitchell, a clear-eyed religious-studies student who believes himself her true intended. Playing off the traditional Victorian marriage plot, the novel brilliantly and humorously explicates the joy and heartache of young love.

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