Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

This book came out ages ago and I've finally got around to reading it.  I really loved Middlesex by the same author, so I had pretty high expectations.

The story didn't disappoint, but it was a quicker, shallower read than I had expected.  The premise is the suicides of five sisters in the span of a year.  That's not a spoiler, it's pretty much on the blurbs and explained in the first chapter.  What it deals with is the relics of their life and what significance they carried and attempts to find a connection between their external lives with their disturbed (obviously?) interiors.  Learning the personalities of each girl is interesting, and more fascinating is the pull these sisters exerted on every young man around.  

Two things bugged me about the book, and I'm thinking maybe that's what Eugenides had in mind.  First, he doesn't explain much about why the parents behaved the way they did, and how that could have influenced the girls.   Maybe by not delving into that he's challenging the thought of 'nurture' being to blame when children are dysfunctional?  It seemed the most obvious direction to head in examining why it all happened, but he doesn't go there directly.  By not mentioning their influence, and then not offering any other explanation, is he trying to place all the blame on the indirectly?

The other unexplained (I'm sure on purpose!) aspect was who made up the "we" that serves as the narrator of the story.  It's clearly a pack of boys who are fascinated by the whole tragedy, but who was their voice or was it a compilation of all of them?

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