Saturday, May 4, 2013

Suicide & Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides

From Thursday's BBC article "Suicides soar among US middle-aged people:"
The suicide rate among middle-aged Americans rose 28% in a decade, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found.
Among adults 35-64, white people and American Indians saw the sharpest increases from 1999 to 2010. The CDC did not investigate causes behind the trend, but noted many suicide prevention programmes were geared towards youths and the elderly. The report found no significant change among other age groups.
Since 2009, suicide has claimed more Americans than motor vehicle crashes. There were 38,350 suicides in 2010, making it the nation's 10th leading cause of death, the CDC said.
For a novel about suicide, try Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides:
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.

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