03 November 2011

Books I Read: The Virgin Suicides

My book of the month for October was Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides. I think the reason I chose this book was the perfect storm of things. Last year, I read Middlesex, and literally loved every single page of it. I remember trying to read it in high school, and giving up because it was "too advanced" for me, if you  get my drift. But as a post-grad with both the brain and the balls, I decided to give it another shot, and hot damn do I love Eugenides' writing! His latest book The Marriage Plot has been getting a lot of hype lately, and before I run out to buy my copy, I thought, maybe I should check out The Virgin Suicides first.

First things first, a confession: I saw Sofia Coppola's adaptation years ago, I remember liking it, but not "getting it". I thought it was beautifully filmed, and the the whole thing felt pregnant with poignant imagery and poetry, but I finished the film feeling both empty and expecting more. If this is what Coppola was going for, then kudos. But in response to my curiosity about my feelings toward the film, I decided to try reading the book it was based on.

The book read quickly - almost like a diary, which in a way is completely fitting. The story peeks into the intimate interior spaces of the teenage girl, offering up a dissection of an unimaginably private sphere that so few could know or understand. For me, the devil is in the details. Eugenides offers up images and moments that help to create a reality that comes off the page. He tosses the reader an image, like a bra tossed on the floor in Lux's bedroom. Each girl comes off of the page dancing before the reader unique and vibrant, though part of the sister unit. I found myself wanting to underline whole passages of the book, but restrained myself for it belonged to the library.

While the ending was slightly different from the movie ending, I do think the film adaptation was really spot-on. Whole passages of words beautifully strung together are recited by the voices of the daughters while montages of images from their lives flow together to the sounds of Air. I couldn't help but finish the last pages of the book while listening to the soundtrack letting the music lead me through the time and space of the book.

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