As per usual (where ‘usual’ = every, like, nine years) Jeffrey Eugenides has written a thing, and as usual, I have hacked into his IM. I am his own personal Rupert Murdoch.
Editor103: Hey JE. Not to pressure your artistic genie or anything, but it’s coming up on a decade since Middlesex. Are you churning out any new marvels for me?
JeffEugtheGreat: Dude, you have no idea. I have been reading Victorian novels.
Editor103: Dude, my maiden aunt reads Victorian novels. What I need for YOU do be doing is writing me a Pulitzer winner.
JeffEugtheGreat: Right, ok, so I am also WRITING a book that is like a Victorian novel in its structures and aims, but also STARS a girl who is studying Victorian novels. It’s like Inception!
Editor103: That is in no way like Inception.
JeffEugtheGreat: Yeah, but it has layers, though, right? And she’s studying them in the 80s, when it was passe and lame for books to have plot and be about things everyone is all Roland Barthes this and ‘Il n’y a pas de hors-texte’ that and she’s struggling to rock her Victorian groove in this literary-theory-obsessed climate. CONFLICT.
Editor103: You know that literary theory is an unholy sort of boring to all but the hippest hipsters, right?
JeffEugtheGreat: EXACTLY. Dude, you are BLURBING my BOOK before I WRITE it. Oh, and? Her boyfriend is a manic depressive.
Editor103: So your book will be boring AND depressing?
JeffEugtheGreat: No, dude, he’s MANIC depressive. Like, sometimes he’s MAD. There is a MADHOUSE involved. Of sorts.
Editor103: How Victorian.
JeffEugtheGreat: I KNOW HOW GENIUS AM I. And then there’s this OTHER dude who’s in love with the girl, and he’s taking RELIGIOUS STUDIES!
Editor103: Oh God.
JeffEugtheGreat: EXACTLY! Dude, you are in my brain, reading my mail.
Editor103: That is a hideously mixed metaphor.
JeffEugtheGreat: THIS IS WHY I PAY YOU. Anywert, I got sick of taking things that sound hideous, like teen suicides and kissing siblings, and making them lovely. Instead, I’m taking things that are MAD TEDIOUS, like people’s scholarly inclinations and the way they intersect with and inform said people’s life-paths and making it FASCINATING! Victorian-style. There’re betrayals and scandal and proclamations of affection which are unrequited and capers in an actual CAPE and there may or may not be a marriage, except that I’m calling it The Marriage Plot so maybe that gives it away. But then other shit happens AFTER that marriage, so. It’s more Middlemarch than Jane Eyre.
Editor103: You have been reading.
And ok, this might be a story that appeals ONLY TO ME, because this was my theory class all over again. All the hip cats were all Derrida this and Barthes that and I’m all VICTORIAN SENSATION NOVELS! *squirrelly fists* And it’s by no means my favorite Eugen, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp Foucault. By a stretch.