I finished this book last night, and I watched the film this morning, and I can say this: both are very, very, very good.
The Virgin Suicides is the story of the five Lisbon sisters, who all commit suicide over the course of one year. The story is told by the boys in the neighborhood, who try to put the story together, and tell it from a distance.
This book, people; this book is indescribable. The best thing about this is by far the writing style: Eugenides employs so much detail that it is almost impossible to feel separate from the story. It feels like you are one of the boys, right along with Tom Faheem and Chase, and Paul Baldino, trying to understand the tragic and romantically mysterious story of the Lisbon girls.
That’s the other thing: you can recognize that the boys seriously romanticize the Lisbon girls. Like, on a level that is unlike any other story I’ve read. They follow them religiously.
The story isn’t sad in the way you might think it is. Yes, suicide is an awful and emotionally-charged thing to deal with, and I do not deny that. But the majority of the story is not about the girls deaths, but about their lives, and who the boys believe them to be. Most of the story carries a stoic and silently melancholy tone that allows for the reader to feel the Lisbon girls, but not know them. To see them, but to not understand them.
This is the same struggle that the boys of the neighborhood face.
Eugenides writing is impeccable and unlike any other. Aspiring writers: pick this up and use it as a manual. I know I’m going to.