Dead Girls by Alice Bolin

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 illum...

Details Dead Girls

TitleDead Girls
Release DateJun 26th, 2018
PublisherWilliam Morrow Paperbacks
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Feminism, Crime, True Crime

Reviews Dead Girls

  • Emily
    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 page...
  • Michael
    Mispackaged and mismarketed, Dead Girls is at its most interesting when author Alice Bolin strays from her essay collection's ostensible theme. The pieces on representations of white girlhood and womanhood in popular culture stand out as highlights, from Bolin's analysis of Britney Spears's music videos to her discussion of MTV reality shows. By contrast, the essays on the trope of the so-called Dead Girl are intellectually lazy, in that the auth...
  • ❤
    I cannot believe I'm only giving this two stars. How is that even possible?! I was so sure this would be one of my top reads of 2018. I felt like I read a different book than what was advertised though.I wanted to read Dead Girls based off the part of its blurb that said: "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 disenf...
  • Autumn
    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 point...
  • Lotte
    3.5/5. Alice Bolin is undoubtedly a very talented literary critic and writer and I enjoyed reading this overall, but I can’t help but feel misled by the marketing of this book. The subtitle and blurb promise a thorough exploration of the Dead Girl trope so prevalent in (pop) culture, but only a couple of essays actually focus on this. Most of the other texts are about Los Angeles and depictions of L.A. (and the lifestyle it suggests) in literat...
  • Emily
    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--t...
  • Natalie
    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.
  • Kusaimamekirai
    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 ...
  • Emily
    I thought this would be a convicting critique of a genre I really like, but the real reasons I had to stop reading was: a.) she appeared to have watched/read at least two of the subjects she was critiquing maybe one time and her analysis shows it. She talks about Twin Peaks’ typical centering of the male narrative and she’s totally right. But she didn’t bring in the panned, unpopular film follow-up Fire Walk with Me, which tells the story o...
  • Bekki
    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 class...
  • Kazen
    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 t...
  • Rebecca Renner
    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:
  • Chris
    This is a frustrating book. It really is. IN the beginning, as the title suggest, it is a look at the use of the dead girl in various media. But the bulk of the book are personal essays, mostly about California, that are somewhat interesting, but not all that interesting. In short, you wish it had more media driven and less personal. Her reading of Joan Didion is sound, but if the book is being marketed about the use of Dead girls in the media, t...
  • Claudia Cortese
    This is the best essay collection I have read in years. It's true, as others have noted, that the dead girl trope is addressed most directly in the first few essays, but the trope threads throughout the entire collection. The reader will think that they are reading an essay about Britney Spears, and there the dead girl is. Or the reader will think that they are reading an essay about Los Angeles, or Joan Didion, or female friendships, or reality ...
  • Casey
    First of all, I want to say that Bolin is quite a talented writer. My review is in no way a condemnation of how she's written but rather what she has written.That disclaimer out of the way, this book is boldly, ingeniously mismarketed. To people browsing Goodreads reviews before picking this up (as I sadly did not), this is NOT a book about faddish obsession with true crime and how that reflects back on our society when we covet the crime but ign...
  • Carol
    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 lov...
  • Alix
    all my obsessions are, indeed, inside this book.- a collection of favorites:"the woods are shadowy, uncertain places, sympathetic to secrets, magic, transformations, and cruelty." (takes me back to an essay i wrote about cecelia condit, meditating on the geographical transcendence of the woods and how 'the psychological realms of our minds are very much linked' through art that embodies nature as a perverse homely place)"growing up with such biza...
  • Makenzie
    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 ...
  • Julia
    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 b...
  • Katy
    To put it bluntly, this needs more Dead Girls. The opening essay on our obsession with the dead girl trope is great. The rest of the essays are in strong need of an editor. This was the quote that caused me to throw in the towel: “Paul texted me ‘do you ever feel that your level of intelligence dooms you to be alone.’ My reply began, “My answer is I think sort of obviously yes.” PUUUUH-LEASE. So ⭐⭐⭐ for Dead Girls essay but -⭐ f...
  • Rachel Davies
    this book knocked me out. i can't wait for everyone to read it
  • Rachel
    Flashes of brilliance, but the essays in fitting with the title are much less interesting than the essays about the author's California self-discovery and Joan Didion fascination. I'm so torn on Dead Girls as a collection. It's muddled and facile and smart and incisive - all in the same place.My lack of love for the Dead Girl essays might be because I've done a lot of my own thinking re: the function of victimhood. This is probably a natural exte...
  • Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
    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 @thereadingwom...
  • Monika
    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 ...
  • Kimberly Dawn
    Based on the title and first few chapters, I assumed the essays in the book were all related to the media’s obsession with the victimization of real life, true crime, crime fiction, or crime series on TV.Instead, the essays became random, veering off into unrelated territory, making the book feel disjointed, without a clear theme.
  • Melissa
    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.
  • Emily Trettel
    True crime has been enjoying something between a genre revival and “coming out” in the last few years. “Murder shows” have joined the ranks of wine and yoga pants in the pantheon of guilty pleasures. The fan communities around such podcasts as Serial, My Favorite Murder, and Last Podcast on the Left have opened an unprecedentedly public and popular space for true crime obsessives and new initiates. Flynn’s deliciously trope-subversive G...
  • Katie
    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...