Dead Girls
A collection of poignant, perceptive essays that expertly blends the personal and political in an exploration of American culture through the lens of our obsession with dead women.In her debut collection, Alice Bolin turns a critical eye to literature and pop culture, the way media consumption reflects American society, and her own place within it. From essays on Joan Didion and James Baldwin to Twin Peaks, Britney Spears, and Serial, Bolin illuminates our widespread obsession with women who are abused, killed, and disenfranchised, and whose bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster a man’s story.From chronicling life in Los Angeles to dissecting the “Dead Girl Show” to analyzing literary witches and werewolves, this collection challenges the narratives we create and tell ourselves, delving into the hazards of toxic masculinity and those of white womanhood. Beginning with the problem of dead women in fiction, it expands to the larger problems of living women—both the persistent injustices they suffer and the oppression that white women help perpetrate.Sharp, incisive, and revelatory, Dead Girls is a much-needed dialogue on women’s role in the media and in our culture.

Dead Girls Details

TitleDead Girls
Author
ReleaseJun 26th, 2018
PublisherWilliam Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN-139780062657169
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Feminism, Crime, True Crime

Dead Girls Review

  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Let’s call this one two and a half stars. Alice Bolin is smart and talented--I can say that confidently--but she’s doing too much at one time. How she landed on the title is completely beyond me, because the Dead Girls to which she is referring are mentioned only sparingly. A better title for this book would be “I Moved to L.A. and it Made Me Sad,” with the subtitle “Can I mention every one of Joan Didion’s published works in 250 pages?” And that's not to say that I WOULDN'T want to read that bo Let’s call this one two and a half stars. Alice Bolin is smart and talented--I can say that confidently--but she’s doing too much at one time. How she landed on the title is completely beyond me, because the Dead Girls to which she is referring are mentioned only sparingly. A better title for this book would be “I Moved to L.A. and it Made Me Sad,” with the subtitle “Can I mention every one of Joan Didion’s published works in 250 pages?” And that's not to say that I WOULDN'T want to read that book. In fact I know I WOULD want to! It's just not what I thought I was signing up for this time. Alice makes some interesting cultural commentary, but it drowns in meandering memoir and I can't help but feel misled.
    more
  • Autumn
    January 1, 1970
    Even though this book didn’t examine the dead girl trope as much as I wanted it to, it’s still an incredible examination of the forces that create an environment that allows the dead girl trope to thrive. She also looks at the ways white women and white feminism are both trapped by, perpetuators, and by-products of the male gaze. Honestly, it’s one of the most critically interrogative essay collections I’ve read in a while. She even points out and examines the inherent problems of the personal e Even though this book didn’t examine the dead girl trope as much as I wanted it to, it’s still an incredible examination of the forces that create an environment that allows the dead girl trope to thrive. She also looks at the ways white women and white feminism are both trapped by, perpetuators, and by-products of the male gaze. Honestly, it’s one of the most critically interrogative essay collections I’ve read in a while. She even points out and examines the inherent problems of the personal essay. I’ll definitely be re-reading this one and marking it up as I go.
    more
  • Kusaimamekirai
    January 1, 1970
    The essays on the female body in American film, literature and television, or “The Dead Girl”, were very insightful. As someone who often analyzes (too much according to more than one annoyed friend) the images and words that flicker in front of my eyes, I had never really thought about what the author writes here about why the “dead girl” plot device is so popular. She argues that it is because it becomes a tableau for predominately men to work out their own issues:“There can be no redemption The essays on the female body in American film, literature and television, or “The Dead Girl”, were very insightful. As someone who often analyzes (too much according to more than one annoyed friend) the images and words that flicker in front of my eyes, I had never really thought about what the author writes here about why the “dead girl” plot device is so popular. She argues that it is because it becomes a tableau for predominately men to work out their own issues:“There can be no redemption for the Dead Girl, but it is available to the person who is solving her murder. Just as for the murderers, for the detectives in True Detective and Twin Peaks, the victim’s body is a neutral arena on which to work out male problems….Clearly Dead Girls help us work out our complicated feelings about the privileged status of white women in our culture. The paradox of the perfect victim, effacing the deaths of leagues of nonwhite or poor or ugly or disabled or immigrant or drug-addicted or gay or trans victims, encapsulates the combination of worshipful covetousness and violent rage that drives the Dead Girl Show.” I don’t agree with all of her argument here, however she makes her point quite eloquently and does raise some disturbing issues as to why this trope has the popularity it does. I would have in fact liked her to explore this concept further however the other essays meander a bit into areas that I personally didn’t find particularly interesting. A good part of the book is taken up with her analyzing Joan Didion’s essays about Los Angeles as the author intersperses her own stories go moving from Idaho, Nebraska and Los Angeles. After a certain amount of time, the writing about Didion feels like a bridge the author uses to talk about her own relationships and experiences in Los Angeles. In and of itself there is nothing wrong with that, but when your experiences revolve around a string of meaningless relationships (its telling or perhaps intentional that she identifies them only by their first initials) being broke, or how proud you are to have never been in an Ikea when your friends take you there, you start to wonder how we got so far away from the dead girls. By the time she gloats about how her friend taught her to steal bags of coffee from her job, I had pretty much ceased having sympathy or any positive feelings about her at all. Narcissism and amorality will usually have that effect on me. To sum up, there is some very strong and interesting writing to be found here in the book’s initial essays. However the further away we get from the premise of the book and into the author’s vanity, the book suffers.
    more
  • Natalie
    January 1, 1970
    This isn’t quite the meditation on dead girls and women as a particular obsession of our culture that I wanted. There are a handful of essays that touch on it, but this is mostly the navel-gazing of a privileged white girl who read too much Joan Didion, moved to Los Angeles on a whim, and how it made her Very Sad.
    more
  • Rebecca Renner
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed reading this book. Bolin is great at personal essays and cultural criticism. She left some questions unanswered though. My review for Broadly digs into that: https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/articl...
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    The blurb on the back of the book explains that the book will take you through dead women in fiction and the larger problems of living women. And I suppose it does, kind of, do that, starting by dipping its toes in the waters of “Dead Girl Shows” like True Detective and Twin Peaks, then devolving into dissections of books, movies, and songs where women have some sort of troubling presence--all loosely tied to the writer’s life/background--then devolving into anecdotes of the writer’s loneliness The blurb on the back of the book explains that the book will take you through dead women in fiction and the larger problems of living women. And I suppose it does, kind of, do that, starting by dipping its toes in the waters of “Dead Girl Shows” like True Detective and Twin Peaks, then devolving into dissections of books, movies, and songs where women have some sort of troubling presence--all loosely tied to the writer’s life/background--then devolving into anecdotes of the writer’s loneliness in LA. But, to be honest, I didn’t actually get anything enlightening about abused/killed/disenfranchised women out of these essays, as the blurb intimates I would. There were some interesting correlations, some interesting anecdotes. But when I closed the book at the end, I basically felt like I had just read a disjointed collection of women’s studies term papers rather than a “Sharp, incisive, and revelatory...much-needed dialogue on the woman’s role in the media and our culture.”
    more
  • Bekki
    January 1, 1970
    i don't understand how she ended up with the title of this book. i'd say about 40 pages are dedicated to the american obsession of the "dead girl" trope and then the rest segues into bolin's self indulgent memoir that truly has no direction. she writes about her father, then her move to LA, her boring white girl problems, AND THEN throws in basically every piece joan didion has every written, seeming to idolize her, then drags her for being classist, which actually made me laugh out loud because i don't understand how she ended up with the title of this book. i'd say about 40 pages are dedicated to the american obsession of the "dead girl" trope and then the rest segues into bolin's self indulgent memoir that truly has no direction. she writes about her father, then her move to LA, her boring white girl problems, AND THEN throws in basically every piece joan didion has every written, seeming to idolize her, then drags her for being classist, which actually made me laugh out loud because this woman truly has some spectacular blinders on it she thinks she is better than joan. not to say a criticism of joan has no merit, but seriously, the irony.this book is 20% dead girls (if that), 50% dull memoir, 20% joan didion musings, and 10% "throwing in some POC writers so i don't seem racist."
    more
  • Kazen
    January 1, 1970
    I have mixed feelings about Dead Girls - it starts amazing but sadly I had trouble getting all the way to the end.I do want to be clear - the first part, about the titular women American culture obsesses over, is incredible. Bolin talks about "Dead Girl Shows" that use the memory of women-who-were to tell stories about the men who killed them or seek to revenge their deaths. Instead of looking at the impulse some men have to prey on young women the narrative of these shows concentrates on the ki I have mixed feelings about Dead Girls - it starts amazing but sadly I had trouble getting all the way to the end.I do want to be clear - the first part, about the titular women American culture obsesses over, is incredible. Bolin talks about "Dead Girl Shows" that use the memory of women-who-were to tell stories about the men who killed them or seek to revenge their deaths. Instead of looking at the impulse some men have to prey on young women the narrative of these shows concentrates on the killer's psychology and methods, making the practice seem inevitable and beyond the man's control. I highlighted many, many passages from this section and will be revisiting the essays so I can chew over them more.That's only part one of four, though. The second section takes a step away and examines women who are living but have been used to sell a story in a related way. I like Lonely Heart, about the contradictions and tragedy in Britney Spears' fame, but otherwise my interest started to wane.If the book were a tire that's where the slow leak started, with a more steady whooosh becoming apparent over the last two parts. Bolin gets deep into her experience of being lonely after moving to the West coast and I couldn't get on board. It's an amalgamation of things I have a hard time caring about or connecting with (LA, Joan Didion, accounts of roommates and boyfriends) with books that we are assumed to know but oftentimes I did not. If you love so-called "Hello to All That/Goodbye to All That" essays, worship Didion, and don't mind a jumble of thought, you'll do better here than I.It's hard for me to rate Dead Girls because it went from a compulsively readable, fascinating ride to a flat tire I had trouble rolling over the finish line. I thought it would be a great fit for my Serial Killer Summer but sadly only the first quarter or so fit the bill.Thanks to William Morrow and Edelweiss for providing a review copy.
    more
  • Julia
    January 1, 1970
    What a beautiful, insightful book! Dead Girls is an original first person coming-of-age story rooted in essays that reckon with pop culture's obsession with girls (white ones, primarily, which Bolin examines) and what all this means for the self— that vulnerable, fleshy material that is forced to see itself as both an object of adoration and an object to be destroyed, when all it's trying to do is get a good job with benefits and a taco truck burrito for dinner. The book is not so much exclusive What a beautiful, insightful book! Dead Girls is an original first person coming-of-age story rooted in essays that reckon with pop culture's obsession with girls (white ones, primarily, which Bolin examines) and what all this means for the self— that vulnerable, fleshy material that is forced to see itself as both an object of adoration and an object to be destroyed, when all it's trying to do is get a good job with benefits and a taco truck burrito for dinner. The book is not so much exclusively about "dead girls" as it is about American culture's obsession with "girlhood" in general, and the ways that femininity is marred, manipulated and controlled by representations in true crime, music and popular culture. Like many millennial culture writers, Bolin is very aware of her positionality in reference to her material. She uses her own life for texture and adds characters for substance; what does it say about her father that he is so fond of Swedish crime novels, and what do those crime novels aim to get at with their audiences? Although she grapples with themes of misogyny and privilege, the book is a highly approachable examination of the personal and political. Unfortunately the marketing for Dead Girls totally undermines the book— ugly cover, misleading subtitle, weird summary. It fails to get at what makes this book so successful; namely, the way Bolin manages to capture her own coming-of-age with hawk-eyed clarity at a highly politicized time in popular culture. It is also a beautifully rendered ode to Los Angeles, a city whose complexity she channels with more love and care than the many writers who stay fixated on the isolated, white-washed Hollywood crowd and its immediate vicinity. And counter to what the title might suggest, this book was lively and inventive. I'm excited to see what's next from Alice Bolin.
    more
  • Makenzie
    January 1, 1970
    My favourites in this collection were definitely "Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show," "The Husband Did It," and "A Teen Witch's Guide to Staying Alive." I also loved Bolin's writing about general pop culture, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Twin Peaks, and Lana Del Rey, and I fell particularly in love with her musings about LA and her focus on Joan Didion. This book is somewhat falsely marketed as most of it past the first essay strays from a cultural criticism of the "dead girl" trope, altho My favourites in this collection were definitely "Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show," "The Husband Did It," and "A Teen Witch's Guide to Staying Alive." I also loved Bolin's writing about general pop culture, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Twin Peaks, and Lana Del Rey, and I fell particularly in love with her musings about LA and her focus on Joan Didion. This book is somewhat falsely marketed as most of it past the first essay strays from a cultural criticism of the "dead girl" trope, although it is a topic that reoccurs from time to time throughout. I would recommend this for fans of Leslie Jamieson or Rebecca Solnit.
    more
  • Rachel Davies
    January 1, 1970
    this book knocked me out. i can't wait for everyone to read it
  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Like all essay collections, some will resonate more than others. For me, Bolin really soars when she writes about pop culture and more specifically, about the ways "dead girls" become impetus for character development of men. She critically explores girlhood and race, without making sweeping statements about the status of girlhood -- she breaks it down, exploring what white girlhood to us culturally. What that says about who we are and what we care about (hint: it's not the dead girl, but it's a Like all essay collections, some will resonate more than others. For me, Bolin really soars when she writes about pop culture and more specifically, about the ways "dead girls" become impetus for character development of men. She critically explores girlhood and race, without making sweeping statements about the status of girlhood -- she breaks it down, exploring what white girlhood to us culturally. What that says about who we are and what we care about (hint: it's not the dead girl, but it's a pretty way to start the story).My favorite essays in here were the ones on Britney Spears. This could be read really well alongside Sady Doyle's Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why. I also felt like her piece on the (brilliant!) movie GINGER SNAPS gave what is a badass feminist horror flick some of the credit it deserves. I found her pieces on Los Angeles to be pretty boring, though. I don't harbor an interest in the "Hello from all of this"/"Goodbye to all of this" essays. I don't care about Los Angeles or New York City or finding yourself as an artist in either. The Didion stuff was especially uninteresting to me as someone who hasn't read Didion. That said -- I see who those pieces are for and suspect they're well done. I looked forward to more pop culture pieces instead. Don't go in expecting the book to be entirely about Dead Girls. Bolin addresses this pretty early on, and we all fall for it. We want the pieces to be about the dead girls, about that trope, and they are. But not all of them. It's that promise which draws you in and keeps you. It's kind of brilliant how she uses that for her own character assessment.
    more
  • Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
    January 1, 1970
    I think I expected a little more true crime focus to these essays than there was. The collection was a lot of personal reflections and musing on various books and films, and it was interesting to hear the author’s perspective on works by literary giants like Toni Morrison. I will say, if you’re a Joan Didion fan that you’ll appreciate the references that pop up throughout this collection! I’d also recommend listening to the @thereadingwomen podcast interview with this author which I loved! (@aut I think I expected a little more true crime focus to these essays than there was. The collection was a lot of personal reflections and musing on various books and films, and it was interesting to hear the author’s perspective on works by literary giants like Toni Morrison. I will say, if you’re a Joan Didion fan that you’ll appreciate the references that pop up throughout this collection! I’d also recommend listening to the @thereadingwomen podcast interview with this author which I loved! (@autumnprivett I’ve never seen Twin Peaks 🙈)
    more
  • Monika
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to love this, but I can't help but feel like I was misled. The analysis of the "Dead Girl" only pops up occasionally from chapter to chapter. Instead, this is more of a memoir with a dash cultural criticisms and numerous references to Joan Didion. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's not what I signed up for. Bolin is extremely intelligent and insightful, but I would have liked to see that keen eye turned to the actual topic of the book.
    more
  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    Two things: 1) I loved this smart, insightful, and funny collection of essays by Alice Bolin. 2) It’s not really about what you think it’s about. I went into Dead Girls expecting a collection of essays examining our cultural obsession with violence against women as entertainment. The book’s called Dead Girls, for god’s sake. But only the first few essays really address that topic. Honestly, Bolin is more focused on Joan Didion than on the dead girl trope. I was disappointed at first, but once I Two things: 1) I loved this smart, insightful, and funny collection of essays by Alice Bolin. 2) It’s not really about what you think it’s about. I went into Dead Girls expecting a collection of essays examining our cultural obsession with violence against women as entertainment. The book’s called Dead Girls, for god’s sake. But only the first few essays really address that topic. Honestly, Bolin is more focused on Joan Didion than on the dead girl trope. I was disappointed at first, but once I let go of my expectations, I ended up deeply connecting to Bolin and her writing. Bolin is primarily interested in entertainment and how our consumption of media effects our reality. She uses the Millennium series to discuss her relationship with her father, if he’s on the Autism spectrum, and whether or not that matters. She examines how Joan Didion both led her to LA and let her down. She uses a 1962 New Wave film Cléo from 5 to 7 to investigate her struggles with hypochondria. Dead Girls is half critical analysis and half a deeply personal coming of age story. As with all essay collections, I connected with some sections of this book more than others. I struggled with some of her essays worshiping Joan Didion (haven’t read her yet. Eeeeeek) and exploring LA. On the other hand, I was absolutely obsessed with the Weird Sisters portion of Dead Girls, specifically her essays “A Teen Witch’s Guide to Staying Alive” (discussing Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle) and “Just Us Girls” (about a campy, feminist, werewolf horror movie called Ginger Snaps). I also deeply connected to her last essay, "Accomplices", which dissects her first serious relationship, growing up late, and the privilege, power, and culpability of white women. Dead Girls is cultural criticism that is both academic and intimate. At times, I felt like I was learning so much. Other times, I felt like I was talking shit with my best friend. It was the perfect balance. I loved Dead Girls and will be keeping my eye out for more works from Bolin.
    more
  • Neville Longbottom
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 - Hmmm. This wasn’t totally what I thought it would be. From the title and summary I thought it was mainly going to be focused on the obsession with “dead girls” in pop culture. From fictional stories and true crime stories about murdered or abused women, and why society is so enamored with them. That is the focus of the first section of the book, but then after that most of it veers off and doesn’t relate back to the “dead girls” topic that much. I was so ready for a book full of media crit 3.5 - Hmmm. This wasn’t totally what I thought it would be. From the title and summary I thought it was mainly going to be focused on the obsession with “dead girls” in pop culture. From fictional stories and true crime stories about murdered or abused women, and why society is so enamored with them. That is the focus of the first section of the book, but then after that most of it veers off and doesn’t relate back to the “dead girls” topic that much. I was so ready for a book full of media critique and analyzing why stories about “dead girls” are so popular. The first section of the book was really satisfying and interesting. It looks at “dead girl shows” like Twin Peaks, True Detective, Pretty Little Liars, Veronica Mars, etc where the plot of the show revolves around a “dead girl” and figuring out who killed her. It looks at a lot of the misogyny present in these narratives and how men control and harm girls’ bodies. I just wish the entire book was about this topic. Much of the rest of the book were essays about the author moving to Los Angeles and what life in LA is like. There is so much about Joan Didion it’s almost a little ridiculous. Occasionally things would tie back into the “dead girls” topic, but for the most part they didn’t. I don’t think this is a bad collection of essays. And I still enjoyed most of the ones that weren’t about “dead girls”... but I just wish this book had been given a different title. I just felt a little bit duped since I went in thinking it would mostly be examining this specific pop culture obsession when in fact it was much more broad than that.
    more
  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    So approximately 50 pages of this 288 page book dealt with Dead Girls--and the author made some excellent points and gave me a lot to consider as I consume pop culture. Those chapters read like the best essays from Bitch Magazine. Consume your pop culture, but be very aware of what we're actually hearing/watching/reading. However.Everything else was disappointing. If I wanted to read a book about how someone moved to LA and didn't like it, or loved to talk about Joan Didion's take on California, So approximately 50 pages of this 288 page book dealt with Dead Girls--and the author made some excellent points and gave me a lot to consider as I consume pop culture. Those chapters read like the best essays from Bitch Magazine. Consume your pop culture, but be very aware of what we're actually hearing/watching/reading. However.Everything else was disappointing. If I wanted to read a book about how someone moved to LA and didn't like it, or loved to talk about Joan Didion's take on California, I would have expected the title to reflect that. Once I realized the author was going to keep going back to the LA/Didion well, I started skimming (this was around page 120) and stopped here and there when it looked like we might get back to the "American Obsession" but we never did.I would love to read more from this author, as what I did read was usually insightful and at times humorous. That said, I think the publisher needs to more accurately title/blurb/edit these collections in future.
    more
  • Susan Merrell
    January 1, 1970
    Underscoring the importance of this book--when you search for it on Goodreads, about a thousand books with Dead Girl in the title come up. The first few essays, about the patriarchy and what our obsession with dead women actually means about our culture, are brilliant. The rest of the book is really fine.Well worth the read, especially if you are a writer working in the murder area.
    more
  • Paula Russel
    January 1, 1970
    This was somewhat interesting and enjoyable, but I feel like I expected it to be an analysis of a specific harmful trope from a feminist perspective. It felt more like a collection of personal essays mixed with literary criticism, and it felt like the trope of America’s obsession with women who die young was merely something that popped up here and there based on the authors interests and life story. I feel like I’m ultimately disappointed, but with that said, Bolin is not a bad writer. I just f This was somewhat interesting and enjoyable, but I feel like I expected it to be an analysis of a specific harmful trope from a feminist perspective. It felt more like a collection of personal essays mixed with literary criticism, and it felt like the trope of America’s obsession with women who die young was merely something that popped up here and there based on the authors interests and life story. I feel like I’m ultimately disappointed, but with that said, Bolin is not a bad writer. I just feel like there’s some depth that’s missing here and that this book was not at all what it has been described as, and I didn’t love the personal parts of this book.I didn’t really love the narcissism that I saw in this book. Bolin addresses moments in her past where she’s been able to reflect on narcissistic behaviour, but i got the sense she thought that was all in the past when it was omnipresent in this book as well. There’s a strong tone of “look at how interesting I am” to this book that left a bad taste in my mouth, and it didn’t seem like there was much personal reflection in most of what she wrote about her life. The personal parts of this book often felt quite self aggrandizing and as though they didn’t speak to her development of self or the development of her opinions. I generally quite enjoy memoirs or personal essays because they often seem to be a persons analysis of their experience (like Jeanette Walls or Cheryl Strayed) or give insight into their perspective about the topic they’re writing about (ex. Krakauer), but neither of those were to be found in this book. It felt more like the personal parts of this book were only there so that the author could have the focus be on *her* rather than the books and media she was analyzing, not because it informed her perspective or added depth to the subject matter.
    more
  • Richard Noggle
    January 1, 1970
    (3 and a half stars!)Bolin's collection of cultural criticism is sharply observed and pretty accessible, offering a nice mix of close analysis and personal reflection, though it's a little less explicity focused than the title suggests. As with any collection, readers will gravitate toward certain pieces. I personally loved the dissection of Los Angeles Noir (which articulated a connection between the "aimlessness" of the plotting in these works and the landscape of the city that makes perfect s (3 and a half stars!)Bolin's collection of cultural criticism is sharply observed and pretty accessible, offering a nice mix of close analysis and personal reflection, though it's a little less explicity focused than the title suggests. As with any collection, readers will gravitate toward certain pieces. I personally loved the dissection of Los Angeles Noir (which articulated a connection between the "aimlessness" of the plotting in these works and the landscape of the city that makes perfect sense but which I'd never fully considered before). I also enjoyed the odd, longish piece in which she attempts to understand her father's obsession with Swedish mystery novels by immersing herself in them: "...this essay seems like a Freudian patricidal project to ignore, then obsessively read, then talk shit in print about my dad's favorite books." However, I've personally read enough Britney Spears and reality television essays to last me a lifetime (and I haven't even read that many). But those pieces are well-written too, and no doubt some will prefer them.
    more
  • Marisa Carpico
    January 1, 1970
    A disappointment. The first section is good and then it goes off the rails as Bolin makes 2 mistakes she’s so afraid of making: over-inflating the importance of her own experiences and using the titular dead girls as a sexy marketing gimmick.The pop cultural criticism worked best for me, though some of it is so haphazardly presented that it isn’t as strong as it should be. Perhaps the strongest single chapter is the one on the Canadian film ‘Ginger Snaps’. It’s the best synthesis of her attempts A disappointment. The first section is good and then it goes off the rails as Bolin makes 2 mistakes she’s so afraid of making: over-inflating the importance of her own experiences and using the titular dead girls as a sexy marketing gimmick.The pop cultural criticism worked best for me, though some of it is so haphazardly presented that it isn’t as strong as it should be. Perhaps the strongest single chapter is the one on the Canadian film ‘Ginger Snaps’. It’s the best synthesis of her attempts to mix personal anecdotes with larger observations about society.
    more
  • Alex Bledsoe
    January 1, 1970
    This collection of essays seems slightly mis-titled, since only the first one really deals with the “dead girl” trope (think Laura Palmer in “Twin Peaks”) in any depth. But the others are just as fascinating and well-written, combining personal experience with a wide range of pop culture (and regular culture) touchstones to create a very specific account of how growing self-awareness mixes with the art we choose, and the places we live. This specificity allows the reader to discover the parallel This collection of essays seems slightly mis-titled, since only the first one really deals with the “dead girl” trope (think Laura Palmer in “Twin Peaks”) in any depth. But the others are just as fascinating and well-written, combining personal experience with a wide range of pop culture (and regular culture) touchstones to create a very specific account of how growing self-awareness mixes with the art we choose, and the places we live. This specificity allows the reader to discover the parallels in their own lives, and gives resonance where a more “universal” approach would feel false.
    more
  • Andy
    January 1, 1970
    The concept of the book, as it is marketed/promoted, is excellent! I had high hopes of reading some sustained contemplation of "dead girl" fiction in film, tv, and literature. And the first chapter had some sparks in it.But ultimately this collection reads like an assembly of last-minute seminar papers and personal journals from one's first year in graduate school. For example, the piece on Twin Peaks had some productive provocations, but the claims don't seem to account for the prequel film Fir The concept of the book, as it is marketed/promoted, is excellent! I had high hopes of reading some sustained contemplation of "dead girl" fiction in film, tv, and literature. And the first chapter had some sparks in it.But ultimately this collection reads like an assembly of last-minute seminar papers and personal journals from one's first year in graduate school. For example, the piece on Twin Peaks had some productive provocations, but the claims don't seem to account for the prequel film Fire Walk with Me--which I think would actually bolster Bolin's general direction in a more precise way.The utter dismissal of the political was astounding and brought down the stars for me as I don't see how a book on the American obsession with stories driven by dead girls can elide the political.
    more
  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    A very interesting set of essays. Parts 1 (The Dead Girl Show) and 3 (Weird Sisters) are the strongest sets of essays examining the culture’s obsession with The Dead Girl in TV/film/books and how a living female body is harder to handle (“Just Us Girls” about the B-horror flick Ginger Snap is excellent). Part 2, which is about LA and Bolin’s connection with Joan Didion was fine, but the writing didn’t feel as strong to me.
    more
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 - this book was not exactly what I thought it was (more personal than I thought), but I really enjoyed the analysis presented and the way that it was integrated into stories about her own life. Also I may or may not (absolutely did) at the mentions of We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I would recommend this, and I had the absolute honour of hearing her speak a few days ago!
    more
  • Thelonia Saunders
    January 1, 1970
    This one is rough. I really, really enjoyed the first and third section, but the 2nd and 4th fell a bit flat to me, as someone who doesn't particularly care about LA or Joan Didion (and who was expecting more cultural analysis and not an autobiographical dive into the author's life that isn't particularly relevant).Honestly, I'm going to check out the author's articles, since I suspect that the stronger pieces in here probably exist as stand-alones, and forward those to friends, instead of recom This one is rough. I really, really enjoyed the first and third section, but the 2nd and 4th fell a bit flat to me, as someone who doesn't particularly care about LA or Joan Didion (and who was expecting more cultural analysis and not an autobiographical dive into the author's life that isn't particularly relevant).Honestly, I'm going to check out the author's articles, since I suspect that the stronger pieces in here probably exist as stand-alones, and forward those to friends, instead of recommending they read this one (unless of course, they like LA and hearing about people's roommates).
    more
  • Carrie Surbaugh
    January 1, 1970
    I think I really wanted to give this 3.5 stars. This essay collection is a bit uneven— some of the essays are beautiful and cogent, but some meander a bit too far. I also expected more essays to focus on true crime and America’s obsession with dead girls, but I felt the theme got lost about halfway through the book.
    more
  • Jason Diamond
    January 1, 1970
    This is my favorite new essay collection I've read so far in 2018.
  • Casey
    January 1, 1970
    I had high expectations for this book considering it’s subject matter is so fascinating; the American media is indeed disgustingly fascinated with the plot of having the girl next door undergo some type of traumatic death or accident, and I was happy to learn more about the audience’s morbid eagerness to watch the story unfold. While I knew there would be some of Bolin’s personal experiences intertwined within this book, I thought that it would place more of a focus on investigating them inner w I had high expectations for this book considering it’s subject matter is so fascinating; the American media is indeed disgustingly fascinated with the plot of having the girl next door undergo some type of traumatic death or accident, and I was happy to learn more about the audience’s morbid eagerness to watch the story unfold. While I knew there would be some of Bolin’s personal experiences intertwined within this book, I thought that it would place more of a focus on investigating them inner workings of various television shows (like Twin Peaks) and go further into the psychology and understanding of our obsession. Unfortunately, that is not what this book is. While I did read about a lot of media, I felt that I read very trivial plot summaries about a number of television shows that simply stated that the American public was enthralled in their stories, not WHY they were enthralled. I felt that this book was very disjointed and read more like a memoir than a book exploring a huge cultural fixation, which would’ve been fine, if that’s what this book was marketed as. Also, on a more personal level of frustration: I can only read about a young woman’s obsession with Joan Didion so many times...While the book was very accessible and easy to read, I was ultimately left disappointed. Bolin undoubtedly has great ideas and interesting view points on this subject, I just think that more research needs to be done.
    more
  • charlotte (outdatedlibrary)
    January 1, 1970
    Read it in a day, just couldn’t stop. A great essay collection.
Write a review