Camp #2, which tended to be dominated by slightly older white guys like myself, who perhaps identified more strongly with the boys/men narrating the story, took it more as a contemporary fable of the neighborhood, a suburban myth that had grown and evolved over time to attain the status of folklore.
Of course, as moderator, I remained entirely neutral and impartial throughout the discussion and resisted the temptation to add further fuel to the fire by suggesting that perhaps those dual interpretations were precisely what the author had in mind all along.
Earlier in the evening we enjoyed a thought-provoking tour of the Cameron Jamie exhibit conducted by our buddy Ray. The parallels between the exhibit and the novel are striking. Beyond fascination with/abhorrence of the suburbs, both artists seem to exploit the spiritual emptiness and social hollowness of its cultural landscape.
In an interview Mr. Eugenides stated, “ If I were an emotion, I would be longing. That is a kind of human emotion that’s very clear to me, and very strong from an early age, as perhaps it is in everyone… VIRGIN SUICIDES is almost one long longing.”
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
*My computer tells me this isn’t actually a word, but I like it anyway.