Book Reviews in 200 Words or Less: Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot

Girl meets Alpha Boy, eschews cozy friendship with Beta Boy.  Alpha Boy, we find, is manic depressive; Beta Boy goes to India to find religion and justify his theology degree.  Girl marries Alpha, Alpha divorces Girl, Girl screws Beta (home again but smelly from his travels) for a tidy rebound.   (Oh, sorry: SPOILER!): Book ends.  In between these dots are a bunch of sentences constructed of words, loads (and loads) of summary and backstory, even that obnoxious technique where we read the same experiences through different points of view.  Worst of all, it’s another goddamn coming of age story?  I mean, hasn’t Eugenides grown up yet?  In the 10 years since my beloved Middlesex, hasn’t he gleaned anything compelling from adulthood to write about?  With that said, there’s some fun poked at the expense of deconstructionism and its proponents, some fantastic musings on where the ego stops and spirituality begins, and all three main characters have compelling (if, in the end, disappointingly flat) third-person points of view to perch from, and I know that Eugenides fans aren’t going to be dissuaded from giving the book a whirl by this rather snarky review; I was just hoping for more, is all.

Sean Conaway’s work has appeared in Arcadia Magazine and the American Fiction Anthology.  He’s currently working on a novel that he hopes one day you will read.


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