Thursday, 6 August 2009

Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides

Eugenides's tantalizing, macabre first novel begins with a suicide, the first of the five bizarre deaths of the teenage daughters in the Lisbon family; the rest of the work, set in the author's native Michigan in the early 1970s, is a backward-looking quest as the male narrator and his nosy, horny pals describe how they strove to understand the odd clan of this first chapter. The title derives from a song by the fictional rock band Cruel Crux, a favorite of the Lisbon daughter Lux--who, unlike her sisters Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Cecilia, is anything but a virgin by the tale's end. Her mother forces Lux to burn the album along with others she considers dangerously provocative. Mr. Lisbon, a mild-mannered high school math teacher, is driven to resign by parents who believe his control of their children may be as deficient as his control of his own brood.

I knew I had to read this book. I've seen a bit of the film, and I know it's a classic book for the broken. It's one of those books, like The Bell Jar and Prozac Nation, that lure me in.
I was sorely disappointed. There never was a real ending, only an assumption of why the remaining Lisbon girls killed themselves. I gained very little from the book, no understanding of the girls' pain, and while their lives were empty in a way that usually draws me to a character, the boys' lack of interaction with them left the girls as nothing but names on a page, they weren't fleshed out until I saw their various methods for suicide and by then it was - ironically - too late (in the book).
The plot itself had no series of unfortunate events, only a few main points, it was pretty much only hankering after the girls and watching their lives and home deteriorate. The only thing that interested me was Lux having sex on the roof, considering the book is named The Virgin Suicides, and the way Lux and the girls hoodwinked the boys so that they could kill themselves.
Is it clearly obvious that Lux was my favourite? Somehow she was the only one who I found to jump out at me from the page - the girl who rebelled against her parents, smoking and drinking and sex on the roof! She impressed me, especially with her collection of music being so bad it had to be burned.
But anyway, basically, apart from the main plot points, the book bored me. It was filled with loooong descriptive passages about the boys lusting and the neighbours being nosy and how derelict the house was getting. Not what I'd expected at all, in fact for something I'd gathered as a cult classic, it was an enormous let down.

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