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
ISBN9780062657169
Author
Release DateJun 26th, 2018
PublisherWilliam Morrow Paperbacks
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Feminism, Crime, True Crime
Rating

Reviews Dead Girls

  • Emily
    2018-06-20
    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
    2018-09-03
    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...
  • Autumn
    2018-03-18
    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...
  • ❤
    2018-08-19
    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...
  • Lotte
    2018-08-12
    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
    2018-06-16
    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...
  • Kusaimamekirai
    2018-07-04
    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
    2018-08-19
    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
    2018-07-19
    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...
  • Natalie
    2018-07-21
    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.
  • Kazen
    2018-06-22
    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
    2018-05-21
    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...
  • Claudia Cortese
    2018-08-08
    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 ...
  • Carol
    2018-07-22
    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...
  • Makenzie
    2018-07-19
    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
    2018-07-15
    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
    2018-08-14
    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
    2018-03-10
    this book knocked me out. i can't wait for everyone to read it
  • Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
    2018-07-09
    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
    2018-07-16
    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 ...
  • Melissa
    2018-06-23
    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
    2018-09-01
    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...
  • Alix
    2018-09-22
    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...
  • Katie
    2018-07-21
    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...
  • Neville Longbottom
    2018-07-04
    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”...
  • lauren
    2018-09-20
    A completely misguided title and description. After a few flimsy essays about our culture's obsession with "dead girls," it delves into her obsession with Joan Didion and her move to LA and name-dropping literary shit. Yawn. Sometimes she tries to reign in what she's saying to relate to the title but it's too little, too late. The last section was a chore to plow through as well. After all the fawning over Didion, she's all to eager to throw Didi...
  • Yuni Chang
    2018-08-12
    took me way too long to get through this but mostly not the book's fault, i'm just bad at being a disciplined reader. it was strongest in the last couple essays- generous but relentless with her predecessors, meditative but with a clear point- her voice is humble without pretense. a couple of the essays didn't say much, just wading distractedly through the water of her own thoughts, and were kind of boring- but the others were spicy, really liked...
  • Jocelyn
    2018-08-28
    This was one of those books that I got from the library and then maybe 30 pages in I went out and bought myself a copy. It's definitely one I will read and reread over time and write notes in. Not only did I really enjoy Bolin's discussion of dead (and living) women in our pop culture over time, but I really appreciated her personal essays about living in LA. I had a similar LA encounter and really identified with a lot of what she was saying and...
  • jenice
    2018-08-05
    while not every essay is based around the dead girls trope, i do think the vast majority of this collection is worthwhile