We all know the Dead Girl. She's the reason for the story, but rarely the focus. Instead she's a prop, a symbol, a fetish, a harbinger, or a means to an end. Bolin deftly explores this morbid phenomenon in the first section of her vital new essay collection. From there, she goes on to (among other things) challenge Joan Didion's iconic but problematic portraits of Southern California, reveals the subtle brilliance of seemingly banal pop hits, and considers hypochondria as a psychological manifestation of overwhelming existential dread. Dead Girls takes the world we see and reveals the strangeness under the surface, the menace hiding beneath the ordinary. Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
“Dead Girls is everything I want in an essay collection: provocative lines of inquiry, macabre humor, blistering intelligence... I love this book.”
— Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
"Bracing and blazingly smart, Alice Bolin's Dead Girls could hardly be more needed or more timely.”
— Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of You Will Know Me
Best of summer 2018 – included on best-of lists by Bitch Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, The Millions, Esquire, Refinery29, Nylon, PopSugar, The Chicago Tribune, Book Riot, and CrimeReads
In this poignant collection, Alice Bolin examines iconic American works from the essays of Joan Didion and James Baldwin to Twin Peaks, Britney Spears, and Serial, illuminating the widespread obsession with women who are abused, killed, and disenfranchised, and whose bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster men’s stories. Smart and accessible, thoughtful and heartfelt, Bolin investigates the implications of our cultural fixations, and her own role as a consumer and creator.
Bolin chronicles her life in Los Angeles, dissects the Noir, revisits her own coming of age, and analyzes stories of witches and werewolves, both appreciating and challenging the narratives we construct and absorb every day. Dead Girls begins by exploring the trope of dead women in fiction, and ends by interrogating the more complex dilemma of living women – both the persistent injustices they suffer and the oppression that white women help perpetrate.
Reminiscent of the piercing insight of Rebecca Solnit and the critical skill of Hilton Als, Bolin constructs a sharp, perceptive, and revelatory dialogue on the portrayal of women in media and their roles in our culture.
“Along with some incisive commentary on the role of pop stars, noir fiction, and the privileged nature of Joan Didion’s ‘glamorous desperation,’ Bolin delves into her own process and what it means to create as a female artist.” Harpers Bazaar
“Bracing and blazingly smart, Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls could hardly be more needed or more timely. A critical contribution to the cultural discussion of gender and genre, Los Angeles and noir, the unbearable persistence of the male gaze and the furtive potency of female rage.” Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of You Will Know Me
“I loved this book with reckless abandon. Alice Bolin tracks our societal fixation with violence against young women through an astonishing variety of cultural landscapes… An irresistible read. It’s wise and wonderful and I plan to press it on everyone I know.” Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire
“Everything I want in an essay collection: provocative lines of inquiry, macabre humor, blistering intelligence. I love this book. I want to take it into the middle of a crowded room and hold it up and scream until someone tackles me the ground; even then, I’d probably keep screaming.” Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
About the Author
Alice Bolin's nonfiction has appeared in many publications including ELLE, the Awl, the LA Review of Books, Salon, VICE's Broadly, The Paris Review Daily, and The New Yorker's Page-Turner blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis.