I loved The Virgin Suicides, laughed at the praise and awards for Middlesex, and ignored The Marriage Plot. It was easy to ignore Marriage Plot; the author had written one good book followed by one bad—odds were in favor of another dud.
What a dope I am. Marriage Plot is damn funny and blasted with that undergrad cruelty-ennui Evelyn Waugh so loved. Madeleine Hanna is a terrific creation—she is Oedipa Maas before settling with Mucho in Kinneret-Among-The-Pines.
Some great lines and paragraphs, including my favorite so far:
She could see her parents waiting below. They were trapped between the lobby door and the door to the street, Alton in a seersucker jacket, Phyllida in a navy suit and matching gold- buckled purse. For a second, Madeleine had an impulse to stop the elevator and leave her parents stuck in the foyer amid all the college-town clutter—the posters for New Wave bands with names like Wretched Misery or the Clits, the pornographic Egon Schiele drawings by the RISD kid on the second floor, all the clamorous Xeroxes whose subtext conveyed the message that the wholesome, patriotic values of her parents’ generation were now on the ash heap of history, replaced by a nihilistic, post-punk sensibility that Madeleine herself didn’t understand but was perfectly happy to scandalize her parents by pretending that she did—before the elevator stopped in the lobby and she slid open the gate and stepped out to meet them.
Eugenides is 2 for 3. Good average.