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 film.I had read Middlesex by Eugenides and thought he was a genius This book proved he is only an occasional genius Sadness. 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 him.He was born 20 years before the author of this book, Jeffrey Eugenides, but they both grew up in the U.S., in the Midwest, and both of them experienced childhoods that were heavily influenced by the auto industry.They also both watched a lot of changes occur in the U.S., not the least of these being the confusing shifts in the lives of American adolescents.And 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 disbelief.Dad 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 nudge.He 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 quietly 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 horror.People, I could write essay after essay about this book I could stick quote after quote 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. 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 process.One 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 interesting.Coated 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, etc.Symbolism 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 climax.The 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 story.I 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 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. So disappointed with this book.Couldnt get my head round the characters 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 plot storyline, though unique, 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 explained.I 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. 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 5 5Ten a ganas de dejar un poco de lado la literatura juvenil, as que decid coger esta novela que llevaba un tiempo llam ndome desde mis estanter as Qu sorpresa que se haya convertido en uno de los mejores libros que he le do, pero pocos tienen la magia de la que bien puede alardear esta novela Si tuviera que describir Las v rgenes suicidas con una palabra, sa ser a sin duda intensa No s si fue cosa de la narraci n, o la necesidad de conocer qu desencaden la secuencia de suicidios de las hermanas Lisbon, y que adem s, a pesar de conocer el desenlace de antemano, lograra mantenerme en vilo en todo momento Viviendo las vidas de este grupo de hermanas a trav s de diferentes pares de ojos, que terminan formando un caleidoscopio de las mismas Un caleidoscopio adem s, gracias al cual acab pensando que Bonnie, Therese, Mary, Lux y Cecilia eran reales, que las conoc a de verdad y al mismo tiempo apenas sab a nada de ellas en absoluto Como si s lo se narrara lo equivalente a la punta del iceberg, con un fondo tan profundo que se requerir an p ginas y p ginas para conocerlas realmente Y es que as somos todos en realidad, no Me ha parecido desgarradora la forma de tratar el tema del control y la opresi n familiares De c mo los padres de estas j venes, que con toda la buena intenci n quieren llevarlas por el buen camino , terminan vetando su felicidad y desarrollo como personas Sin duda, es una obra maravillosa, profunda y muy cuidada, que si bien puede resultar algo confusa al principio es dif cil distinguir la l nea que separa el pasado con los pensamientos del narrador, o incluso lo que se desarrolla en el presente , termina creando una atm sfera nica y absorbente Se consigue una transici n desde esa confusi n inicial, hasta una novela compleja y con un entramado m gico, que me atrap por completo y me dej sin palabras Totalmente recomendado. For me, what makes this novel different from those that I ve read so far is the narrator s voice first person plural and the brilliant way Jeffrey Eugenides born 1960 made use of it Since the story is about 5 teenage sisters and the narrators were interested on them, readers presumed that they were narrating from the viewpoint of schoolboys with raging hormones and think of sex almost every hour of the day Until the last sentence when Eugenides revealed that the narrators are already middle age men with thinning hair and soft bellies My perception of the story as a reader made a complete turnaround Being a middle age man myself and having a teenager daughter, the last page upped the story s impact on me.The collective voice of the narrators who are voyeurs of the Lisbon family oozes with innocence of being young and sexually curious and guilt of being voyeurs who did not do anything to save the sisters If you read this novel in a superficial manner, this is just about 5 young sisters 13 year old Cecilia, 14 year old Lux, 15 year old Bonnie, 16 year old Mary, and 17 year old Therese who killed themselves because of their very strict mother and workaholic submissive effeminate father They probably lost all hopes of having a good future like finishing school after they were pulled out just because Lux missed the curfew or finding a rich man to marry since they were not allowed to go out any But Eugenides, having an M.A in Creative Writing from Stanford University, knew better It would have been too simple for a story to be all about that In the narration, the boys said that the suicides were act of selfishness as the girls were at the brink of adulthood, pretty hence possible sexual preys They fantasized about having sex with them and even kept with them the exhibits that even in their mid lives still remind them of how they felt towards those pretty young things The boys thought that they were innocent but the fact that they were watching the Lisbon house through their binoculars, they were communicating with them via songs played on the telephone, the girls were leaving notes posted on the bicycle wheels or in the mailboxes did not give them the inkling to help to prevent the eventual group suicides They just watched and did nothing In effect, the boys were the selfish ones and the guilt that permeates in them in their middle age is what Eugenides, in my opinion, wants to communicate with this novel Cecilia s suicide forewarned the narrators Forewarned the people of small town of GrossPointe, Michigan Some paid attention the priest, the social worker But in the end those were just not enough The Lisbon sisters committed suicide with the blood left on the hands of the boys and the whole town.And the creepiest thing there is that since Eugenides used we and us and realizing in the end that those narrators were not teenage kids but were middle age men, gave me the feeling that I, now a middle age man myself, was with them watching Lux making out with faceless boys and men on the rooftop making me equally guilty For me, this is a sample of a novel that seems to be a simple story but very rich in terms of interpretation It just made me think of my role as a father to my teenage daughter How I should deal with her especially during those times when we misunderstand each other, she locks herself in her room and cry Fatherhood is trial and error and they say that one has to only follow his heart and everything will turn out right in the end I wish it is that simple Not that our family has the suicidal gene running in our blood but I just have to sensitive and not bury myself in my office work and books and hope that times like that will go away once she s 20 and no longer an adolescent Now I have enough motivation to read Eugenides Pulitzer winning novel Middlesex One hell of a writer. 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 quality 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 identical ly ridiculous , for example the inventory of items thrown out from the Lisbons house including blankets sopped with the picnic of the girls spilled sleep whatI felt repulsed by a lot of it the descriptions, the characters and the general queasy atmosphere made me feel quite 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 story.Thinking 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.
Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is an American Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and short story writer of Greek and Irish extraction.Eugenides was born in Detroit, Michigan, of Greek and Irish descent He attended Grosse Pointe s private University Liggett School He took his undergraduate degree at Brown University, graduating in 1983 He later earned an M.A in Creative Writing from Stanford University.In
- 250 pages
- The Virgin Suicides
- Jeffrey Eugenides
- 15 March 2017 Jeffrey Eugenides