The Virgin Suicides
The virgin suicides is a story I got to know after being obsessed with Sofia Coppola and watching the Tumblr worthy film, but it is a book (and film) that many years after my adolescence I carry dearly into my heart having more relevance as I grew older and understanding my own past. The story turned 25 years on 2018 and Picador published an anniversary edition for the book, which as a fan I just had to buy and ended up including it in my reading challende for this year.
If you are not familiar with the story, the book narrates a couple of boys remembering their obsession with the Lisbon girls and how that obsession grew one year after–spoiler alert–the suicide of one of the sisters. Their relationship with the sisters was merely fantasy and we only get to know the sisters from the outsider perspective of these boys; The girls trapped in what seemed a troubled home all ended their lives and the boys can’t seem to escape or move on with their lives, sure they move on as most people do, in an automatic, robotic way we all carry on with the duties of adulthood but the boys maintain the feelings for the girls they experienced as boys.
They speak of the girls with the jealousy and somewhat anger “survivors” feel when a close one dies to suicide. They keep deteriorating exhibits which they see over and over: “Mary’s old cosmetics drying out and turning to beige dust . . . Cecilia’s canvas high-tops yellowing beyond remedy of toothbrush and dish soap.”
This book is about the past, and how it never leaves us. It just doubles and exposes as a photograph badly kept, always shifting out of our grasp. There is no memory that doesn’t fuzz around the edges, reveal itself as something else entirely, like Mrs. Lisbon mistaking the flash of sun in a window for the face of a girl long dead. Like the boys, we can try to solve the mystery of our own suffering either as adolescents or adults, bridge the gap between all the people we have been, but of course there are no answers. There are no reasons.