The Virgin Suicides: The Very Best of World Building
Already familiar with The Virgin Suicides, we picked it up a second (third?) time for one purpose and one purpose only: to explore the writing mechanisms Eugenides relied on to create, in our opinion, one of the very best examples of literary world building.
Not a topic of choice for every reader, The Virgin Suicides characters and plot are as fleshed out and tangible as they are heartbreaking. It is this three-dimensional quality of the Lisbon world and story (present from the very first page) that have us continually turning back to the book to be both encapsulated by their fictional suburbia and to try and learn from Eugenides style.
If Southern Gothic is one of your preferred genres, The Virgin Suicides will be easily palatable for you. If you're looking for a book-length example of world building and weaving the five senses into a narrative, TVS should be one of your first stops. Know that the book is descriptive - for better and for worse - and often left us reeling, taking a pause from the pages to process and digest the reality of the Lisbon family. Such is the world building skill of Eugenides - we often found ourselves pulled into the book, hearing, seeing, and smelling the small town as if it were our own childhood home, and as physically impacted by the events as it we were remembering experiences of our own.
Read this book carefully and with consideration - however, know that if you're in the right frame of mind and take interest in the macabre, absolutely read it none the less. Eugenides' writing will leave you reflecting on your own work, wondering if you have ever so wholly fleshed out a 2-dimensional world.