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The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives Twenty years on their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters' breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear


10 thoughts on “The Virgin Suicides

  1. says:

    i'm gonna need a minute


  2. says:

    suicide isn't the happiest of topics the suicides of five sisters is even less pleasant how do you recommend a book to someone on such a grim topic? easy just read it what eugenides does so well is capture the mystery of secluded sisters as seen through the eyes of neighborhood boys this is important in reading the novel it's not necessarily the lisbon sisters' story but rather the boys' story and how the suicides affected them all the way into adulthood the boys are now men and they retell their story they've never fully recovered from the events of that year as evidenced by the carefully catalogued and numbered evidence they've collected over the years faded photographs scraps of paper newspaper clippings etc it's as though their growth and development from boys to men has been permanently stunted and it's something of a tragedy to read euginedes' use of a vague narrator allows the reader to actively participate in the mystery and confusion as the boys try to come to terms with the deaths the narrators alway refer to themselves as we and never i drawing the reader in with them we don't know who's speaking it could be any of 10 12 boys it's a particularly useful way of letting the reader experience the same gamut of emotions as the boys by the end of the book i was every bit affected the same way the boys were and are beyond the subject of suicide there's also some very insightful social commentary on how death particularly suicides affect not only specific individuals but communities as well the narrators for example notice how all the leaves went unraked during the fall after the first four sisters kill themselves there's also mention about a day of mourning and an assembly at school and one boy comments how he felt like they were supposed to feel badly for everything that ever happenedever how do adults explain suicide to children? eugenides expertly taps into what it's like to try to grapple with and understand something completely beyond understanding how do we process suicide and death? can we? should we? i don't think it's beyond reason to make comparisons to 'hamlet' or other literature where 'ghosts' figure prominently for all intents and purposes these men are still boys under the spell of five ghosts it's a thought provoking novel and one that stays with the reader well after closing its pages just as the lisbon sisters still haunt the memory of the neighborhood boys perhaps the most impressive aspect of the novel is the prose itself mr eugenides can write my copy of the book is nearly worn out from all the markings i've made there are passages that made me jump off my bed and shout at the sky his prose is as shiny as a newly minted coin it's as though every word were precisely chosen every sentence carefully constructed and i imagine they were the novel reminds the reader of the printed word's power i don't know how much eugenides got for his soul for surely there was some sort of bargain with the devil but i hope it was a hefty sum unfortunately uality literature seems to be in short supply these days however i think it's safe to say that after two books jeffrey eugenides has joined a gradually declining crop of truly great living american authors roth delillo morrison updike among a few others and is well on his way to an illustrious prolific literary career this is one of the few books i read than once each time i read it i hope to glean some insight into the 'why' of suicide yet knowning it will never be so so i'll just keep reading it over and over and try to understand just as the boys continue to congregate go over the evidence seek closure and try to become men


  3. says:

    I simply didn't get this book I was so desperate to find hidden meaning in it but there was nothing Why waste so much paper and ink on something so overtly pretentious and so utterly meaningless? A group of oppressed sisters kill themselves after flirting with the neighborhood boys How horrible that it happened in the middle of suburban America where white picket fences are supposed to render such neighborhoods impermeable to tragic teenage death In the end all I got from this book was the fact that the girls were peculiar and hello at least one was not a virgin when she committed suicide the boys were immature the girls' parents were psychotic Okay sure I get that there may have been metaphors and themes about the hypocrisy of middle America oppressive religion etc etc but I wasn't impressed I saw Sofia Coppola's film afterward; no it did not improve my understanding or appreciation of the filmI had read Middlesex by Eugenides and thought he was a genius This book proved he is only an occasional genius Sadness


  4. says:

    This book is like a preface where the real book never feels like it begins Endless foreshadowing mixed in with various teenage boy obsessions about what a home with five daughters must entailboxes and boxes of tampons etc I couldn't wait for these girls to kill themselves just so the book would be over


  5. says:

    I had to take some time after reading this and do some deep thinking before I could review It is such an unusual story good but dark and full of nooks and crannies for skeletons and other vermin to hide It is hard to say I enjoyed a story like this that would be like saying I enjoyed a car wreck; intriguing but lots of people and property were damaged in the processOne main thing I can say is I don't think I have seen the main story take as much of a back seat to the setting the symbolism and the side characters The book is The Virgin Suicides but they might be the least important as well as the most important part of the book Are you confused yet?Setting The neighborhood the houses the tree house the school Description of buildings The importance of a location Certain windows serving as stages into the performance of people's lives All very complex and interestingCoated in muck Throughout the book things are covered in dust slime dead bugs etc Everything is made to seem like it is coated and a deeper truth is underneath And I think it is important that the coating is never pretty Things aren't coated in sugar or clouds or pretty makeup It is always foul stinking decaying etcSymbolism As the story deteriorates so do the structures and the people Buildings decay People become and unstable Every element spirals into a gloomy miasma and it moves towards the ultimate sad climaxThe boys the boys in the story serving as narrators really kept making me think of Stand By Me or The Sandlot Coming of age Looking into other people's lives Trying to figure things out while wrapped in the innocence of youth It was a very intriguing approach to telling the storyI think that many will enjoy this Just remember that it is dark and somewhat disturbing Not something to read while looking for a pick me up


  6. says:

    Once when I was 13 my father came home early from work and asked to see my yearbook It was the last day of junior high and I remember that I leaned against the kitchen counter cracking my knuckles and watched as he slowly turned the glossy pages reading all of the comments that had been written by my friends He was silent the entire time he was reading but when he finished he handed me back my yearbook and said “I loved being a teenager but I wouldn't be one now for anything in the world”I thought I was going to receive a lecture that evening but I didn't To this day I have wondered what spurred on his sudden interest in my social life and my friends Had he read an article about the rise of teen suicide? My father had been a teenager in the late 1950s; his kids became teenagers in the 1980s I can only imagine it was a very different experience for himHe was born 20 years before the author of this book Jeffrey Eugenides but they both grew up in the US in the Midwest and both of them experienced childhoods that were heavily influenced by the auto industryThey also both watched a lot of changes occur in the US not the least of these being the confusing shifts in the lives of American adolescentsAnd I wish wish WISH that my father had discovered Mr Eugenides and this UNBELIEVABLE FANTASTIC INCREDIBLY ORIGINAL debut novel before he passed because he'd have been shaking his head in a stunned disbeliefDad never knew Mr Eugenides but I do and his Pulitzer Prize winning Middlesex just about knocked me out He's one hell of a writer and he seems to capture the decline of American society without judgement rant or sociological nudgeHe's a storyteller who tells his tales these deceptively simple stories that make you stop whatever you're doing curl your toes bite your nails giggle into your hands or shout HOW IS THIS YOUR DEBUT? HOW IS THIS YOUR DEBUT MR EUGENIDES?? NO SERIOUSLY HOW IS THIS YOUR DEBUT?And then he makes you cover your eyes with a cold compress and weep uietly into your pillow I don't hate you Mr Eugenides I'm sorry I'm so so sorry I don't hate you Jeffrey In fact I love you Oh I love you Jeffrey Oh Jeffrey I love you as your family looks on in horrorPeople I could write essay after essay about this book I could stick uote after uote of brilliant prose on here but all I want to do is tell you that after I finished it this evening I could only curl up in a tight ball of jealousy and awe and suck my thumb


  7. says:

    Honestly I really wanted to fall in love with this I've long been aware of its status as a cult classic and many people I know as well as people I don't know but whose taste seems to correspond closely with mine have professed to adore it So I feel a bit uncomfortable about revealing that I disliked it I'll admit I have been guilty of judging people a bit if I see they've slated a book I really love and this seems to be a book that has a lot of meaning for many readers but there you go I can't help it I DO 'get' a lot of the things people love about the story the hazy filmic uality of the writing the sense of indefinable loss and nostalgia for childhood the effective use of first person plural narrative the clever structure with the obsessive boys cataloguing every shred of information they can find about the Lisbon girls and collating it into a sort of testament But I didn't get much enjoyment from reading it The tone reminded me a lot A LOT of The Lovely Bones which I also disliked and I presume this book must have been a major infuence on Alice Sebold's style Some of the descriptive language seemed identically ridiculous for example the inventory of items thrown out from the Lisbons' house including 'blankets sopped with the picnic of the girls' spilled sleep' what? I felt repulsed by a lot of it the descriptions the characters and the general ueasy atmosphere made me feel uite ill I know this is probably a part of what some appreciate but I couldn't get into it at all With the narrators seeming so odd and the Lisbon sisters so distanced from them through the way they are idolised and analysed I didn't feel a connection with anyone or anything in the storyThinking about it this also might be because the characters' everyday experiences were so completely removed from anything I remember about being a teenager so I didn't find any of it to be something I could relate to either I know you're not supposed to understand why the Lisbons killed themselves but as someone who was severely depressed and at times suicidal at that age myself it all rang so hollow to me and I couldn't shake the feeling that the book itself as opposed to just the narrators was romanticising suicide This is particularly evident in a passage towards the end discussing the girls attending a debutante party after the suicides 'they were bound for college husbands child rearing unhappiness only dimly perceived bound in other words for life' So the Lisbons got the better end of the deal I suppose by escaping from this predestined boredom and misery early? I also couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to accept that ALL THESE MEN would remain so obsessed with the Lisbon girls for the rest of their lives the bits about always thinking of Lux during sex etc Yes it's believable that being a witness to the suicides of five young sisters would haunt them for a long time but surely by middle age at least some of them would have moved past it? Surely they wouldn't still be continually fantasising about the early fumblings of a 14 year old as grown men? And if any of this is supposed to be at all romantic I just found it downright weird By the end I was so so sick of their tedious obsession Not for me


  8. says:

    Where to begin I have read some of the reviews of others who did not care for or get this book I admit that the plotstoryline though uniue is not what makes this story great it's the prose The writing is luminous and reads like poetry than a novel We don't even know exactly who the narrators are it is narrated in first person plural and the name and even number of narrators is left vague Eugenides uses metaphor to describe the deaths of the sisters as the disintegration of a suburban neighborhood the trees are being cut down because of the threat of Dutch Elm disease; there are dying flies everywhere that are described by the first sister to commit suicide as not even having time to eat before their lives are over There are so many themes in the story going through the layers is akin to peeling an onion The writing is so lovely that it induces a dreamlike state in the reader Everything is described so perfectly that you can not only see clearly what is being described but smell the various smells and recall with clarity everything from that time period Eugenides did not throw this book together; in my mind's eye I see him sitting at his desk turning each phrase over and over in his hands until he gets it exactly right Yet the writing is not strained at all in fact it seems to have flowed effortlessly from his pen This is a gifted writer whose work will be read for generations to come long after Eat Pray Gag is in the remainder pile Elizabeth Gilbert Chris Bohjalian Jodi Picoult Robert James Waller John Grisham read this and weep To this list I add myself since I would give anything to be able to write half as well as Eugenides As for those who look for a conventional plot line like all of the other books out there and do not find it why EXACTLY did the girls kill themselves? In the real world not everything in life can be explainedI loved the book so much that I immediately rented the movie It was awful with the exception of James Wood who nailed the part of the father beautifully


  9. says:

    I don't even really know what to say I think maybe a few people are going to be disappointed that I didn't give this five stars and I mean I'm upset that it wasn't five stars either but hear me outThe thing I liked the most about this book is the perspective We're learning about 5 girls who commit suicide and we NEVER hear anything substantial from any of the sisters? It was genius The way this book was written is brilliant Honestly every couple of pages I would think to myself When Jeffrey Eugenides thought to himself that he should write this from the outside view he had one of the best epiphanies ever Ever The second thing I liked was the realism This book is just so true so pure It isn't false in anyway it states it how it is sad and depressing and demoralizing and harsh and upsetting But true Why didn't I love this book? I don't know I honestly I don't know There was something missing Maybe it was my disconnect from the story maybe it was my lack of real care for any of the events or characters or maybe it was the lack of plot When I'm true to myself I could act like this was the best book I could write and essay about how life altering this book is but it's a lie Maybe for other people it is that but for me it wasn't Sometimes you just don't connect to a book and I didn't I don't know


  10. says:

    Wow you knew that this guy was the real deal after allI see this as a perfect segue to his masterpiece Middlesex It's simple it's sad it is capital I Intriguing The first novel always announces the author's intentions for those that come next and Eugenides loves the themes of adolescence in all its tragic shortcomings The Lisbon girls are monoliths to the nameless suitors who do nothing else but speculate about them and become passionate voyeurs They do nothing to save them; they only observe and obsess I guess while girls become emblematic of sexual repression the foolish boys become symbols of generic apathy and cowardice It's a symbol of the times; a portrait of true suburban un happiness