Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jeffrey Eugenides Reads at Seattle Central Library (10.17.2011)

Jeffrey Eugenides is making the rounds promoting his third novel, The Marriage Plot—his first since his 2002 Pulitzer-Prize winning novel Middlesex. In a shiny-coated black jacket, he read to a packed auditorium at the Seattle Central Library. The excerpt detailed the relationship of two of his characters, Brown University students Madeleine and Leonard. Madeleine is falling for Leonard, while Leonard is starting to take distance. Leonard is stoic, yet unflinchingly observant. Madeleine is traditional and believes in love; Leonard is skeptic. However, the story has another angle. A third character weaves in with his sights set on Madeleine.

Jeffrey Eugenides signs his new novelEugenides’ even tone worked well in delivery of his descriptions and humor. The reading flowed and left those with their newly purchased copies of The Marriage Plot ready to get reading.

Eugenides fielded questions following the reading, including: How did he feel about the adaptation of his novel The Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola and his short story The Baster. He deemed that Coppola did a good job; whereas, The Baster, was a poor adaptation made into The Switch (staring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman). His story is about a single woman who wants a baby. She asks her good-looking male friends if they'd provide sperm samples. Her other friend, an ugly man, wants her to ask him to be the donor. When she doesn’t, he tries to find ways to convince her. Eugenides envisioned Paul Giamatti for the role (it went to Bateman). He was  puzzled “they” purchased rights to his story and then changed it. (Note: I liked the movie The Switch.)

He spoke of his own time as a student in the English Department at Brown when Semiotics sprung to life and created a schism. This topic plays a role in The Marriage Plot.

When asked how things were different in relationships now from when he was coming of age in the ‘80s, he said the situations and struggles are still basically the same.

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