“The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides
He’s been referred to as a “literary rock star” recently upon the release of his new novel “The Marriage Plot.” “The Virgin Suicides” is his 1993 debut. Coming from the same generation of writers as Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace, Eugenides has his own style and way of story telling. This novel’s unique feature is the use of the “first person plural” which I found was done very well. The story, essentially, is about a group of boys (now men, looking back) at a string of suicides among the daughters of the Lisbon family. Little by little we learn more and more about the inner dynamics of this family and little by little the more weird and bizarre it becomes. Essentially a story about dysfunction in American suburbia (here, specifically, the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan), this is theme that has been written about many times before but Eugenides finds a way to make it his own. Not a bad novel by any means but I didn’t think it was a great one. A coming of age story that definitely has the stamp of a particular generation on it, which made it easy to relate to (although the characters in this tale would have been a little older than me.) It’s a novel that I enjoyed enough to want to explore his later work.
Rating: * * * 1/2
“Amulet” by Roberto Bolaño
From Chile, Roberto Bolaño’s novels keep coming out every six months or so, making it virtually impossible to keep up with them. Most of his work has been released posthumously and its a shame the world lost this writer as early as they did because he is simply brilliant. “Amulet” is about a student trapped in the bathroom at a Mexican university on that fateful day in 1968 when the military and police stormed in and gunned down many of the protesting students there. While trapped alone for twelve days, she reminisces on her life and the people she had known, all writers and poets. There is a lot of references to Latin American literature here and a knowledge of those books and authors would help appreciate this novel more but it isn’t absolutely necessary. A highly charged account of a certain time and place and a celebration of youth rebellion and idealism. Highly recommended.
Rating: * * * * *