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
    Lets call this one two and a half stars. Alice Bolin is smart and talented--I can say that confidently--but shes 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 Didions published works in 250 pages? And that's not ...
  • 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 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 disenfranchised, and whose bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster a mans story."Unfortunately, only about 25% of the book is actually about that. And that's being generous.The other three quarte...
  • Jessica
    I received this book for free as part of an Instagram tour (TLC Book Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.Despite the title, this isnt really a book about dead girls. Its more a book about girls in pop culture, but also a book about the authors experiences in LA. However, even that doesnt seem to adequately describe this book. Its kind of just a collection of essays that are very loosely connected. Basically, I felt a bit confused by thi...
  • 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 shes totally right. But she didnt bring in the panned, unpopular film follow-up Fire Walk with Me, which tells the story of Laura P...
  • Autumn
    Even though this book didnt examine the dead girl trope as much as I wanted it to, its 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, its one of the most critically interrogative essay collections Ive read in a while. She even points out and ex...
  • Lotte
    3.5/5. Alice Bolin is undoubtedly a very talented literary critic and writer and I enjoyed reading this overall, but I cant 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 literature...
  • 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...
  • 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 writers life/background--then devol...
  • Natalie
    This isnt 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. 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...
  • 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 to work out ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Christine
    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...
  • Kris - My Novelesque Life
    RATING: 2 STARS2018; William Morrow Paperbacks/HarperCollins Canada(Review Not on Blog)I was expecting more of feminism in true crime than just feminism and memoir-style in these essays. The essays were okay, but as it was not what I expected I was a bit disappointed. I enjoy feminist writing, and agree with some of what Bolin says in the book I would recommend you read other reviews as they may be better at saying if this book is for you because...
  • 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 ...
  • Theresa Kennedy
    So, this is one of the few times I'm SUPER excited about a book. "Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession." There's just something about her lyrical, elegant prose, filled with popular culture references, dark humor, and truth that really resonates with me. I grew up in NW Portland in the early 1970's and the specter of forest park and all the dead girls found there was a constant reminder of my place in the world. I lived in fear, ...
  • 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 -⭐ for remaining #M...
  • 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:
  • 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...
  • Kimberly Dawn
    Based on the title and first few chapters, I assumed the essays in the book were all related to the medias 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. Based on the title and first few chapters, I assumed the essays in the book were all related to the medi...
  • Rachel Davies
    this book knocked me out. i can't wait for everyone to read it
  • 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 ...
  • Alison Hardtmann
    Dead Girls is a book of essays with the subtitle Essays on Surviving an American Obsession and rarely have a title and subtitle served a book less well. Alice Bolin's book opens with an introduction about the fetishization of pretty dead young women and the first essays are fantastic, taking on the way dead girls are used in both fiction and in the media as special objects of fascination. She looks at a journalist from Spokane, WA's work about 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 burr...
  • Jeanne
    One of my GR friends complained about books that infantilize women and call them girls, girls who, though talented, focus on their lipstick and romances. Alice Bolin uses the word "girls" in an ironic way, documenting the tropes that our culture uses to keep girls women in their place. Dead Girls is one part feminist critique of pop culture and literature and one part memoir. She looks at crime TV, pop music, teen witch books, werewolf movies, an...
  • Kat
    one star dropped purely bc a couple of the essays were on subjects i'm not that interested in, but every essay which piqued my interest was fabulous, and the whole thing is superbly written. personal highlight is 'a teen witch's guide to staying alive'.would kill for an essay on riverdale by alice bolin tbqh
  • El
    When I first picked this collection up, I thought I was going to read essays entirely about how "dead girls" are portrayed in the media. Bolin does write about this, but that's not all she writes about. She also writes about our portrayal of "girls" in the media, period. Britney Spears comes up on more than one occasion. Why are we so fascinated by her, especially when she breaks down? It's almost like we want her to break down.If you're looking ...