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Maladjusted Readers Fall in Love (Anniversary Edition)

October 17, 2011

I know you’re all waiting with baited breath about the next Maladjusted Book Club selection, especially because this October, the Maladjusted Book Club turns O-N-E.

No, you weren’t? You were busy? You were excited to pick your own books to read?

Too bad. This next one is making me gush, it’s so delicious. Somewhere in Chicago, Jeffrey Eugenides has an artist’s cove, probably a lot more lavish than mine. (He did win the Pulitzer Prize, after all.) For the past few years, he sat up there and wrote me a love letter.

Okay, so maybe he wasn’t directing it to me, per se. But it sure as hell feels like me. His latest book, The Marriage Plot, is so funny, honest, and smart, it makes you want to crawl under the covers and stay there for a very long time. You probably won’t even care that the days are becoming shorter and you wake up in a dark morning. If you are or were an English major, this is one you can’t miss. The only problem is that when you finish, there are no other novels exactly like it.

I’ll be honest: this is the first time I’m enjoying Eugenides this much. After watching the movie The Virgin Suicides years ago, I tried to read the book. But Sofia Coppola did such a good job of translating it into film, I gave up after 50 pages. I wanted to read a story I didn’t already know.

I bought into all the hype surrounding Eugenides’ second novel, Middlesex, and eagerly started it the summer I moved into my house. I became bored, though, and put it down, only to pick it up a few months later and force myself to finish it. After 100 pages or so, that was easier, but the novel still wasn’t my favorite. I admired the writing and understood completely why it was lauded as a great American novel, how it spoke to the American immigrant experience. And yet, I had wanted a little more hermaphroditism. (It’s what the book promised, right?) Also, where was all the sex?

The Marriage Plot, however, is an entirely different entity. Eugenides follows three college students about to graduate, making fun of their professors, their roommates, their relationships with the opposite sex, their egos. But he also tries to delve into what makes them fall in love, what dreams they have as they embark on a new path after graduation. That story premise is appealing enough to me, but what makes it even better is all the talk about books and the way readers respond to those books, whether they be about Victorian figures, postmodern theory, religion or philosophy. In a recent interview in the Huffington Post, Eugenides says, “This book is about reading…. I think, especially when you’re in college, each book that you’re reading tends to tell you who you are.” That’s definitely how I felt then, when I was just starting to discover the magic of literature, and it holds true for me now.

So here you are, Maladjusted Readers. Our Fall 2011 pick. I can’t think of a better choice for our first anniversary.

(We’ll be discussing Monday, December 12th. Leave a comment if you’re, you know, in.)

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate October 17, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Right now, I barely have a brain cell to divide between the necessary tasks ahead, but I would love to join in. Fingers crossed?

Oh, and maladjusted book club, how have you gotten so big? I remember when you were just a little newborn book club! How did a year go by?

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Jana October 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I believe in your brain cells! Do join! You’re an asset. (But of course I understand you have a busy life and will hold no grudge.)

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Rebecca October 17, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Hi! I would like to join! I found your site via the lovely Motherese and Twitter. I live overseas, Cambodia, but am American. I am in a book club here as well, but we are limited by the availability of books at the bookstore for our selections. I myself have an e-reader and secretly crave to be part of a book club that allows me to read whatever selection is available from Amazon/Barnes & Noble (not all our book club members here have e-readers, can you imagine! ;))

So, I’m in. I already had Marriage Plot downloaded and its waiting in my queue. Will get to reading!

BTW, for my book club here, we just read Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan. Really enjoyed it! Would make an excellent discussion piece if people haven’t read it yet.

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Jana October 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm

So exciting! Yes, I did read Egan’s latest. She’s one of my favorite authors. I actually reviewed her book on this site (go to the top under “reviews”) when I read it last year. The first chapter might have to be my favorite!

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Liz S October 18, 2011 at 8:47 am

This book looks fantastic. Downloading it now!

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Andi October 18, 2011 at 10:17 am

Your gushing review made me put the audio book on request from my library – my job frequently puts me on the road & I love nothing more than to pass the time listening to a great story. Can’t wait to start what looks to be a fun literary adventure! :)

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Jana October 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm

A fun literary adventure, indeed! I wonder who is going to read it on the audio version. The author himself?

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Andi October 19, 2011 at 9:21 am

David Pittu is listed as the reader. I’m not overly familiar with him; apparently he read some kid’s books like one of the 39 Clues series, as well as some Anne Rice titles. I’ll let you know what I think of his rendition. Sometimes the reader can make a break a decent story — hoping Mr. Pittu’s voice gives life to what looks to be a really good book! :)

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TheKitchenWitch October 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I’m a huge fan of his! I cannot wait to check this one out!

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Jana October 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Yay! The Kitch is back for the one-year-anniversary!

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Sarah October 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I am so in! I have always wanted to read this author, but had the same reaction to the movie, “The Virgin Suicides”.

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Tiffany October 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Definitely adding this one to my list!

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Cecilia (Only You) October 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm

So funny – your description of your experience with The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex mirror mine *exactly* (or almost exactly; while I put Middlesex down I never did go back to finish it). I have heard rave reviews of his latest one and am glad to hear that it really is that good. I was an English major too. I’ll put this one on my list!

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog last week via the Twitter feed! I have been at your place! I’ve enjoyed your posts, but am not good at keeping up with everything.

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Christine @ Coffees & Commutes October 20, 2011 at 6:52 am

I’m back!!! I’m in!!! I can’t wait to read. (I’m sorry I’ve been so absent, life is just too busy – no other excuse than that!) When do we have to have this read by?

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Cathy October 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Need I even comment here? Of course I’m in. Without you, I’d have no reading at all – except my dry text books – yuck.

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Vanessa October 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I’m in too! Sounds great as are all your picks. When can we look forward to our first discussion?

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Jana October 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

Monday, December 12th. (Plenty of time!)

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