The Sunday Salon – May 31, 2009

TSSbadge3It’s quiet around here today- the hub’s out of town on business and daughter #2 went to a sleepover birthday party last night.  Daughter #1 is still in bed, so it’s just me and the dog, hanging out.  And of course, lots of book bloggers are out of town at BEA.  The silence is deafening!

images-1This has been a good week for reading.  I finished Truth & Beauty, read and reviewed The Virgin Suicides, got about 2/3rds of the way through Beach Trip for our Summer Reading Series, and read about 100 pages of The Local News for an upcoming TLC tour.   My youngest and I started reading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan together for our newly formed mother/child book club, inspired by Julie at Booking Mama.  Our first meeting will be in July with 11 kids (boys and girls) and 9 adults- we’re excited.  It’s amazing how much reading you can do when you turn off the tv.

9780316025270_154X233A lot of books made their way into my hands this week.  I received The Art of Racing in the Rain from Harper Collins- it was a win from a book club website.  I also won The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society from Random House.  Both ‘Racing’ and ‘Guernsey’ are books I’ve been wanting to read since they first came out; I can’t wait!  Love Begins in Winter, a collection of short stories by Simon Van Booy, also came from Harper Collins.  I’m not sure about this one.  I love short stories, but in looking over the book I’m not in love with the author’s style.  I was going to use it for a Teaser Tuesday post, but the sentences are all super short and choppy, and not just in one area.  I looked at probably 20 sample pages.  So I don’t know.  The Skinny:  Adventures of America’s First Bulimic by Rayni Joan came from the author, and last but not least, Sheri from A Novel Menagerie let me borrow Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea.  I’m really looking forward to that one.

9781439102817And I still have to buy a couple of books!  Still Alice by Lisa Genova is my book club’s July pick, and Life of Pi by Yan Martell is our pick for August.  Must get my hands on those.  I will never have enough time to read all the books in my house- unless I stop working and ignore the house, the laundry, my friends and my family for a month or so and do nothing but read.  As tempting as that sounds, it ain’t gonna happen.

Last night, though, I took a break from reading and had a movie night with my 11 year old daughter.  We watched Mean Girls and Legally Blond 2 and pigged out on cookies & cream ice cream.  It was nice spending some one on one time with my oldest.  My kids can be a handful when they’re together, but separately they are angels (well, mostly..), and I think they crave and really need time alone with me and with their dad.  They get sick of being seen as a unit and don’t always want to vie for our attention.

After my girl fell asleep I watched Rachel Getting Married with Anne Hathaway and sobbed like a baby!  The tears were just streaming out of me like a faucet, soaking my face and neck, and I didn’t even try to stop them.  I totally get why she was nominated for Best Actress for this role. She’s come a long way from The Princess Diaries and Ella Enchanted (loved those, too, but in a different way).

Well I hope everyone has a great week.  June, already!  It’s hard to believe.  For us that means 6th grade graduation, 2 more weeks of school, and then a gaggle of kids in and out of the house every day for 12 weeks.  I’m not ready!!!!!

Leave me a note and tell me what you’re reading this week.  Happy Sunday!

Review: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

9780312428815I was so excited to receive The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides as part of the Picador Book Club on Twitter.  I read Eugenides’ Middlesex two years ago, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003, so I was really happy to get this book and started it as soon as it landed on my doorstep.

First published in 1993 and set in a quiet Detroit suburb, this book is about the Lisbon girls, 5 daughters in an unusual family who all commit suicide over the course of one year. It’s told from the perspective of a group of neighborhood boys years after the suicides; boys who became obsessed with what was happening in the Lisbon household and who were always watching and peering out their windows for clues. Boys who would have given their right arms to be close to these young women.

“They were short, round-buttocked in denim, with roundish cheeks that recalled that same dorsal softness. Whenever we got a glimpse, their faces looked indecently revealed, as though we were used to seeing women in veils. No one could understand how Mr. And Mrs. Lisbon had produced such beautiful children.”

Cecelia Lisbon is the first sister to commit suicide, followed a year later by Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese. Cecelia is the youngest at 13. She fails at her first suicide attempt but succeeds quite spectacularly the second time around.

The girls’ motivations are never explained.  Maybe they’re depressed, maybe they’re disturbed, maybe they are stifled by the weight of their overbearing parents and can’t take it anymore.  Maybe not.  We’ll never know, because we aren’t hearing from them. The story is told by the boys and what they can remember, what they’ve assumed or picked up from talking to others, and what artifacts they were able to salvage from the home when it was cleared out after the family left the neighborhood. These boys knew the minute details of the girls lives- what kind of lipstick they wore, what feminine products they used, what music they listened to, games they played, food they ate, clothes they wore. But all their knowledge was from afar; they didn’t know the first thing about who they were or why they did what they did anymore than the media that swooped in to cover the story.

Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex

Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex

This book is really unusual, with comic moments and haunting passages. It’s bizarre, too, in its subject matter and structure, told as sort of a research report by this group of nameless boys. I enjoyed the setting since I grew up in the Detroit area, and details about fish flies, burning leaves, and Dutch Elm disease are like scenes right out of my own childhood.  Mr. Eugenides grew up in Detroit too and is only a few years older than I am, so it makes sense that he was able to capture the feeling of place so authentically.

This is an internal type of book; weird and wonderful and dark. A movie was made in 1999 with James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Josh Hartnett, Danny DeVito, and Kirsten Dunst as Lux Lisbon. I’m not sure how I missed hearing about it, but then again, my kids were babies at the time and I didn’t get out much. I’m going to see if I can get it on Netflix. Here’s a link to the trailer for the movie– I can’t embed it but you might want to check it out.  It looks really good.