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Sing how it passed down through nine generations, gathering invisibly within the polluted pool of the Stephanides family. Three months before I was born, in the aftermath of one of our elaborate Sunday dinners, my grandmother Desdemona Stephanides ordered my brother to get her silkworm box.

And sing how Providence, in the guise of a massacre, sent the gene flying again; how it blew like a seed across the sea to America, where it drifted through our industrial rains until it fell to earth in the fertile soil of my mother's own mid-western womb. Chapter Eleven had been heading toward the kitchen for a second helping of rice pudding when she blocked his way.

Intrigued, Chapter Eleven leaned sideways to see what was going on, but Desdemona reached out and firmly, hegemonically even, pinched his cheek.

Having regained his attention, she sketched a rectangle in the air and pointed at the ceiling.

After decades of neglect, I find myself thinking about departed great-aunts and -uncles, long-lost grandfathers, unknown fifth cousins, or, in the case of an inbred family like mine, all those things in one.

Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities.

I'm a former field hockey goalie, long-standing member of the Save-the-Manatee Foundation, rare attendant at the Greek Orthodox mass, and, for most of my adult life, an employee of the U. I've been ridiculed classmates, guinea-pigged doctors, palpated specialists, and researched the March of Dimes.

A redheaded girl from Grosse Pointe fell in love with me, not knowing what I was.

At the far end was a nearly invisible door, wallpapered over like the entrance to a secret passageway.

Chapter Eleven located the tiny doorknob level with his head and, using all his strength, pulled it open. For a long moment my brother stared hesitantly into the darkness above, before climbing, very slowly now, up to the attic where my grandparents lived.

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