The Virgin Suicides

I had trouble sleeping last night, it wasn’t hot but the air was insufferably close and I lay in bed for a long time hoping for a breeze which did not arrive.  i don’t mind the heat but i detest humidity, it gives me an unsettled, claustrophobic feeling which makes me want to claw at my skin.  When I can’t sleep it doesn’t take long for my brain to start ticking over and filling with thoughts, this of course exacerbates the problem.

Last night I was thinking about The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. I must have been about 13 when I first read this book, it was shortly before the release of Sofia Coppola’s film adaptation, and I loved it from the first page.  Here, I thought, is a book which understands me, as I read Cecilia Lisbon’s response to a doctor questioning the motivation behind her suicide attempt “Obviously, Doctor, you’ve never been a thirteen-year-old girl”.  Here is a book which understands the sweet, impenetrable agony of youth.  

Over ten years later I still adore this book, I read a lot and have varied taste but this is one novel I revisit again.  as I lay there last night I started to wonder what makes this such a captivating novel, tales of doomed youth are not uncommon so there must be something special about Eugenides take on the subject which has made this such a cult classic.  The prose are seemingly simple but hypnotic, they are not flowery and this has lead to an evocative lament to the sullying of childhood whilst avoiding the tweeness or cliche often seen in this genre.  Hazy and evocative it is the written version of lomography.

I don’t want to give too much away because if you haven’t read this book already I wholeheartedly recommend you hightail it to your local purveyor of literature and get yourself a copy (don’t worry, everything I have mentioned so far happens within the first 4 pages).  It is a remarkable book, wry yet touching with a sultry feel to it and an undulating rhythm which grips you like a strong current.  By the end of the first paragraph the plot has been revealed, a string of suicides, the 5 daughters of a suburban American family and the the end of the book the fatalist in you will realise that it could have been no other way.


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