Monday, August 29, 2011
Thoughts: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides is one of those books commonly touted as a modern classic. Told from the point-of-view of an unnamed narrator, the book chronicles the lives of the Lisbon girls, without actually going inside the Lisbon girls’ heads. The story is pieced together from neighbors’ testimonials, diary entries, notes, and other jagged fragments of the Lisbon girls’ lives.
To be honest, I still haven’t made up my mind if this book is a ‘modern classic’ or not. It certainly seems to have all the requirements for a ‘modern classic.’ The sense of tragedy pervading the almost-mythical Lisbon girls? Check. The excellent use of magic realism? Check. I just feel like I’m way out of my league on this one, because I don’t have that many literary fiction titles under my belt.
I was very impressed by the prose. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Jeffrey Eugenides makes writing good fiction look easy. His writing swings effortlessly from a normal teenage boy’s observations to stark poetry that’s heartbreakingly beautiful. There are so many little details in the book that I absolutely loved, like the fingerprints in a tub of Vicks or the way the Lisbon girls sit Indian-style on a seesaw.
The Virgin Suicides feels like one of those novels I should love, but don’t. In fact, it took me over two months to finish this book, and, by the time I reached the final chapter, I just wanted to get things over with. I’m pretty sure it’s just me, though, since I don’t have a very good relationship with literary fiction.