Cover image for Dead girls : essays on surviving American obsession / Alice Bolin.
Dead girls : essays on surviving American obsession / Alice Bolin.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2018]
Physical Description:
276 pages ; 21 cm
Introduction: girls, girls, girls -- Part 1: the dead girl show. Toward a theory of a dead girl show ; Black hole ; The husband did it ; The daughter as detective -- Part 2: lost in Los Angeles. There there ; Los Angeles diary ; Lonely heart ; This place makes everyone a gambler ; The dream -- Part 3: Weird sisters. A teen witch's guide to staying alive ; And so it is ; My hypochondria ; Just us girls -- Part 4: a sentimental education. Accomplices.
"A collection of sharp, poignant essays that expertly blends the personal and political in an exploration of American culture through the lens of our obsession with dead women"-- Provided by publisher.

In this collection of sharp, poignant essays, Bolin blends the personal and political in an exploration of American culture through the lens of our obsession with dead women. Stories, novels, movies and television programs are obsessed with women who are abused, killed, and disenfranchised. Bolin shows how women's bodies (dead and alive) are used as props to bolster men's stories. She analyzes stories of witches and werewolves, and ends by interrogating the persistent injustices real women suffer because of the portrayal of women in media. -- adopted from back cover


Library Branch
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
1 Bob Harkins Branch 305.40973 BOL Book Adult General Collection

On Order



A New York Times Editor's Choice, best of summer 2018 according to Bitch Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, The Millions, Esquire, Refinery29, Nylon, PopSugar, The Chicago Tribune, Book Riot, and CrimeReads

"Stylish and inspired." - New York Times

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.

Author Notes

Alice Bolin's nonfiction has appeared in many publications, including Elle, the Awl, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon, Vice's Broadly, the Paris Review Daily, and The New Yorker's Page-Tuner blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bolin's debut collection is a mixed bag of essays loosely based on female character tropes in pop culture and literature, from the "dead girls" of contemporary noir television shows to the teen witches and werewolves of film and literature. Discussing pop stars, Bolin defends Lana Del Rey's burlesque show tour and astutely deconstructs Britney Spears's oeuvre, contending that Spears's early bubble gum facade masks "a prodigious loneliness." Bolin riffs and flits through topics with tangents that don't always connect to the main theme; in one essay she begins by exploring the femme fatales in the otherwise progressive detective novels of the Scandinavian duo Maj Sjöwell and Peter Wahlöö, touches briefly on Pippi Longstocking, and then ponders her father's recent Asperger's diagnosis. In the collection's lengthy final essay, Bolin reevaluates her obsession with the writer Joan Didion, who admittedly inspired Bolin's move to L.A. in 2014. In this piece, she recounts her own misadventures in a new city, which leads to the realization that Didion's ethos of "glamorous desperation" may be just blind privilege. This last piece is a great personal essay-it's smart, confessional, and fully developed-and the other works in this collection pale in comparison. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Girls, Girls, Girlsp. 1
Part 1 The Dead Girl Show
Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Showp. 13
Black Holep. 25
The Husband Did Itp. 47
The Daughter as Detectivep. 57
Part 2 Lost in Los Angeles
There Therep. 89
Los Angeles Diaryp. 99
Lonely Heartp. 109
The Place Makes Everyone a Gamblerp. 117
The Dreamp. 137
Part 3 Weird Sisters
A Teen Witch's Guide to Staying Alivep. 159
And So It Isp. 177
My Hypochondriap. 187
Just Us Girlsp. 199
Part 4 A Sentimental Education
Accomplicesp. 215
Acknowledgmentsp. 275

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