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The Virgin Suicides
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Jeffrey Eugenides classic debut novel and now a major film, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES is the haunting, humorous and tender story of the brief lives of the five entrancing Lisbon sisters. Originally published by Bloomsbury and now available from us in paperback for the first time, alongside his fantastic new novel MIDDLESEX. 'Jeffrey Eugenides is not promising: he is the real, achieved thing ... the book is light as air, and also quietly, slyly funny ... one of the finest novels in many years - a CATCHER IN THE RYE for our time' OBSERVER

About the Author

Jeffrey Eugenides was educated at Stanford and Brown Universities and now lives in Berlin. He is the author of MIDDLESEX.

Reviews

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. (Apr.)

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''

"A piercing first novel . . . lyrical and portentous."--"The New York Times
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"Mr. Eugenides is blessed with the storyteller's most magical gift, the ability to transform the mundane into the extraordinary."--"The New York Times Book Review
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"Arresting . . . uncannily evokes the wry voice of adolescence and a mixture of curiosity, lust, tenderness, morbidity, cynicism, and the naivete surrounding these bizarre events."--"The Wall Street Journal"


"A piercing first novel . . . lyrical and portentous."--"The New York Times
""Mr. Eugenides is blessed with the storyteller's most magical gift, the ability to transform the mundane into the extraordinary."--"The New York Times Book Review
"
"Arresting . . . uncannily evokes the wry voice of adolescence and a mixture of curiosity, lust, tenderness, morbidity, cynicism, and the naivete surrounding these bizarre events."--"The Wall Street Journal"

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