Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jeffrey Eugenides

I'm one of those people that thinks it's a really good idea to research the author after I've finished reading the book. I'm also one of those perpetually lazy people that only do such a thing if the book I've read was really good. This can most definitely be argued as one of those times.

Jeffrey Eugenides was born in 1960 in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Brown University, and has his Masters degree in English and Creative Writing. The Virgin Suicides is his first novel, published in 1993. He has another book, Middlesex, which has received paramount amounts of critical acclaim, and which I plan on reading as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. His works have been translated into several different languages, though The Virgin Suicides is his only novel that has ever been made into a feature film. He has won a Pulitzer Prize for his contribution to literature with Middlesex.

I am intensely curious as to the inspiration behind The Virgin Suicides. My curiosity has grown even more, due to the fact that this novel takes place very close to where Eugenides grew up. The Lisbon sisters reside in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, while Eugenides lived as a teenager (almost in parallel) in Detroit.  Though many sources state that he has been reluctant to discuss his private life, it is certainly uncanny that he was a teenager boy at the same time and relatively the same place as the fictional Lisbon sisters. Eugenides hints in some interviews that the story of the Lisbons was written subconsciously about the decline of Detroit's auto industry, and therefore about the decline of a city. This is mentioned somewhat throughout the novel, in subtle details.

To be honest, after watching the movie (before I even opened the book), I was surprised that The Virgin Suicides was written by a male author. A lot of the qualities present in his writing seem almost distinctively female. The subject matter, choice of adjectives and (at times) gentle poetic tone lead to originally assume that this book was by a woman.

1 comment:

  1. Wouldn't it be interesting to do a Marxist / Historical reading where you interpreted the book as a criticism of the auto industry? Whether or not that was his inspiration it is a fascinating way to interpret the book.