Writing from a female point of view

Dwight Gardner, in a recent New York Times piece, asked Jeffrey Eugenides what he thought about Cormac McCarthy’s recent “Oprah” appearance, in particular what he thought when Oprah asked McCarthy why he chose not to write about women:

“When Oprah asked him why he didn’t write about women, McCarthy said, ‘Women are tough,’ ” Eugenides replied by e-mail. “He called them ‘mysterious.’ I thought to myself: ‘All I do is write about women.’ It occurred to me that I am a very different kind of writer. I don’t think women are mysterious, or at least I don’t want them to be. That was the whole ‘Star Trek’ idea behind my ‘hermaphroditic’ narrator in the first place. To go where no man has gone before.”

In a Powells.com interview with Dave Weich, Eugenides also says,

“With Middlesex, after a certain amount of trial and error, I came up with a narrative point-of-view that could do anything. And I did want to use a hermaphrodite as the narrator. It seemed to me that a novelist has to have a hermaphroditic imagination, since you should be able to go into the heads of men and women if you want to write books. What better vehicle for that than a hermaphrodite narrator? It’s sort of like the dream novelist himself, or herself, or itself — already we’re into the pronoun problem.” 

Do you think Eugenides has a firm grasp on writing from a female point of view? Is Cal a believable character?


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