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The Virgin Suicides [Audio CD]

Jeffrey Eugenides , Nick Landrum
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (312 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1 2006
The story of five sisters who all commit suicide in the same year. Trying to fathom events two decades later, one of the boys who used to spy on them recreates the fateful year, from the youngest's first plunge into her own bloodbath, to the final field day of the national press.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

Eugenides's tantalizing, macabre first novel begins with a suicide, the first of the five bizarre deaths of the teenage daughters in the Lisbon family; the rest of the work, set in the author's native Michigan in the early 1970s, is a backward-looking quest as the male narrator and his nosy, horny pals describe how they strove to understand the odd clan of this first chapter, which appeared in the Paris Review , where it won the 1991 Aga Khan Prize for fiction. The sensationalism of the subject matter (based loosely on a factual account) may be off-putting to some readers, but Eugenides's voice is so fresh and compelling, his powers of observation so startling and acute, that most will be mesmerized. The title derives from a song by the fictional rock band Cruel Crux, a favorite of the Lisbon daughter Lux--who, unlike her sisters Therese, Mary, Bonnie and Cecilia, is anything but a virgin by the tale's end. Her mother forces Lux to burn the album along with others she considers dangerously provocative. Mr. Lisbon, a mild-mannered high school math teacher, is driven to resign by parents who believe his control of their children may be as deficient as his control of his own brood. Eugenides risks sounding sophomoric in his attempt to convey the immaturity of high-school boys; while initially somewhat discomfiting, the narrator's voice (representing the collective memories of the group) acquires the ring of authenticity. The author is equally convincing when he describes the older locals' reactions to the suicide attempts. Under the narrator's goofy, posturing banter are some hard truths: mortality is a fact of life; teenage girls are more attracted to brawn than to brains (contrary to the testimony of the narrator's male relatives). This is an auspicious debut from an imaginative and talented writer. Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Eugenides's remarkable first novel opens on a startling note: "On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide... the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope." What follows is not, however, a horror novel, but a finely crafted work of literary if slightly macabre imagination. In an unnamed town in the slightly distant past, detailed in such precise and limpid prose that readers will surely feel that they grew up there, Cecilia--the youngest and most obviously wacky of the luscious Lisbon girls--finally succeeds in taking her own life. As the confused neighbors watch rather helplessly, the remaining sisters become isolated and unhinged, ending it all in a spectacular multiple suicide anticipated from the first page. Eugenides's engrossing writing style keeps one reading despite a creepy feeling that one shouldn't be enjoying it so much. A black, glittering novel that won't be to everyone's taste but must be tried by readers looking for something different. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/92.
- Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide-it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese-the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obsessed June 3 2004
Format:Paperback
That is all I can say and the best way I can describe my feelings for the book and movie.Its very simple. The book and movie changed my life. They affected me in ways that very few other books and movies ever have or have ever had the capacity to do.It has a pretty big place in the fabric of my life.
I read some in the book every day. It and the movie have become a sanctuary for me. Whenever I'm upset or depressed , I run to them and I feel better.It draws me into the Libson's girls world and its fascinating and comforting. Lux, Bonnie, Therese ,Mary and Cecilia are so vivid, that they almost seem like real people to me.They don't seem like fictional characters. They seem like friends.I find myself thinking about them a lot and there are very few made up characters that have ever stayed with me like this.
I'm sure that there is at least one other Virgin Suicides fan out there that feels the same way I do and understand what I mean. I can only hope that it continues to affect and changes peoples lives the way it has mine.Read it. You might be shocked at how it haunts you and the presence it has in your life.I hope I explained it well. Something so luminous and subtextural and dream like yet deeply rooted in your psyche can be hard to explain.
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4.0 out of 5 stars No not Middlesex, but good also July 13 2005
Format:Paperback
"The Virgin Suicides" is a fictional representation of a time when this wasn't the case. The anguish in this book is muted, always in the background - simply because its scale is so great that to reveal the truth about it would be overwhelming.
The story of the five Lisbon girls is told by outsiders: the teen boys surrounding them, lusting after them, curious about their mysterious lives. The daughters are Cecilia, Mary, Therese, Bonnie, and Lux; the book begins with Cecilia's classically-inspired suicide attempt, as the Lisbons and the doctors puzzle over its meaning.
Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl. That's Cecilia's only explanation, and its brusqueness and its quality of "if you have to ask, you'll never know" hint at the rest of the book. The mystery here is palpable - and Cecilia's desire for self-destruction concludes in a single violent gesture at a party.
The social milieu of the book is parties, gatherings, dances - alternated with scenes of solitude. Rarely do we see individual representations of the narrator (a one-time resident of the suburb, who witnessed the year of the suicides) and those surrounding him - and, in fact, the atmosphere of the relationships here is sometimes adversarial. The daughter Lux, surely the book's most compelling character, takes men and boys up to the roof with her out of boredom, vague loneliness, and a defiance borne from pain.
Unsurprisingly, "The Virgin Suicides" doesn't dwell on the morbidity of its subject matter. What's surprising is how well it succeeds in evoking the pain of the girls and the desperation of their final acts. Again, the narratorial perspective here helps to a great extent. We never find out what exactly is going on in the minds of the girls.
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4.0 out of 5 stars No not Middlesex, but good also June 3 2005
Format:Paperback
"The Virgin Suicides" is a fictional representation of a time when this wasn't the case. The anguish in this book is muted, always in the background - simply because its scale is so great that to reveal the truth about it would be overwhelming.
The story of the five Lisbon girls is told by outsiders: the teen boys surrounding them, lusting after them, curious about their mysterious lives. The daughters are Cecilia, Mary, Therese, Bonnie, and Lux; the book begins with Cecilia's classically-inspired suicide attempt, as the Lisbons and the doctors puzzle over its meaning.
Obviously, doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl. That's Cecilia's only explanation, and its brusqueness and its quality of "if you have to ask, you'll never know" hint at the rest of the book. The mystery here is palpable - and Cecilia's desire for self-destruction concludes in a single violent gesture at a party.
The social milieu of the book is parties, gatherings, dances - alternated with scenes of solitude. Rarely do we see individual representations of the narrator (a one-time resident of the suburb, who witnessed the year of the suicides) and those surrounding him - and, in fact, the atmosphere of the relationships here is sometimes adversarial. The daughter Lux, surely the book's most compelling character, takes men and boys up to the roof with her out of boredom, vague loneliness, and a defiance borne from pain.
Unsurprisingly, "The Virgin Suicides" doesn't dwell on the morbidity of its subject matter. What's surprising is how well it succeeds in evoking the pain of the girls and the desperation of their final acts. Again, the narratorial perspective here helps to a great extent. We never find out what exactly is going on in the minds of the girls.
Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Death Among Us May 16 2004
Format:Paperback
I chose to read The Virgin Suicides as an English assignment and in reading the book I then had to watch the film and write about something that intrigued me. It could either be how they were similar or how they were different and how differing pieces from the novel and the film had an impact on the plot or strength of what it was all about.
I rated this book as a 4 because I thought that Jeffrey Eugenides did an excellent job of portraying life as it was like for many young women back in the 70's when this book took place and as a result often ended in a tragic way. Even though it is not clearly laid out and printed in words for you as to why the book ends as it does we all can interpret for ourselves why and I believe that we would all come up with the same answer.
In reading the book and watching the film I found that Sophia Coppola, director of the Paramount pictures classic, portrayed the lives of the young girls and the Lisbon parents in a very similar fashion as did Jeffrey Eugenides as to not change the true meaning of what the book was expressing. In fact the film is almost an exact replica of what happens in the book with silimar dialogue and chain of events. If you pay close attention little details were left out of the film but nothing that I found that drastically changed what Eugenides was trying to say. As I examined both pieces closely in an attempt to write a paper relating the two in some way or another one thing stood out to me. If you get a chance, notice the way that the relationships that the girls have with the neighborhood boys is different.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are a fan of the author....
Then you must read this book! Wonderful, insightful writing.....couldn't put it down. After reading it....watch the movie!! Both are very moving in their own way.
Published 20 months ago by Veronica Hylands
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring.....
The story is told by a boy, who lives near the house where the action of the novel takes place. All we learn is what a group of teenage boys saw and understood, which is not much... Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2010 by Alexander Gluskin
4.0 out of 5 stars Macabre
There seems to be a lot to say about a book that approach suicide in such a matter as seen by the neighborhood kids. Read more
Published on Aug. 24 2007 by Nath Drouin
5.0 out of 5 stars Eugenides is tops
Let's start out by saying that above all things, this novel by Jeffrey Eugenides is macabre, to the inth degree. Read more
Published on March 21 2007 by Barrister John
4.0 out of 5 stars Bright but dark also
I chose to read The Virgin Suicides as an English assignment and in reading the book I then had to watch the film and write about something that intrigued me. Read more
Published on March 21 2007 by Pius Mambo
5.0 out of 5 stars Virgin no longer
The Virgin Suicides 2/7/05 amazon
This book really relates to those individuals that have struggled with depression. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2005 by Starkweather,
5.0 out of 5 stars haunting
Well-written and haunting. you feel like an outsider peering in. It's a sad tale, from the first sentence, but oddly enjoyable. Read more
Published on Nov. 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
Very different from MIDDLESEX, this book is unique in that it is told by the point of view of the neighborhood boys, not just one person. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic, deep and interesting...
This is an excellent book. The story follows the (short) lives of the Lisbon girls. The story is narrated by a group of, then, boys that were infatuated with these five young... Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by Flint McColgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Puzzle
I read this book a few summers ago, and I feel a mysterious urge to read it again. What I loved about this book was, for one, the silence. Read more
Published on May 29 2004 by Joanna
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