Cover image for Dead girls : essays on surviving American obsession
Title:
Dead girls : essays on surviving American obsession
Author:
Bolin, Alice author.
ISBN:
9780062657145
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
276 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"Some essays in this collection have been previously published." --Title page verso
Contents:
Introduction: Girls, girls, girls -- Toward a theory of a dead girl show -- Black hole -- The husband did it -- The daughter as detective -- There there -- Los Angeles diary -- Lonely heart -- This place makes everyone a gambler -- The dream -- A teen witch's guide to staying alive -- And so it is -- My hypochondria -- Just us girls -- Accomplices.
Abstract:
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. With fourteen smart, accessible, thoughtful, and heartfelt essays, 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 genre, 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. --Back cover
Genre:

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Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 305.409 BOL Adult Paperback NonFiction Book
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Wellsville - David A. Howe Public Library 1 305.409 BOL New NonFiction Book
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Summary

Summary

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018

Best of 2018 according to Kirkus, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Portland Mercury, Bustle, Thrillist, and Electric Lit

A New York Times Editor's Choice, a best of summer 2018 according to 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.


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 2

Booklist Review

Media writer Bolin realized at a very young age that society loves a good dead girl. Analyzing the popularity of shows and radio programs like Twin Peaks, Serial, and Pretty Little Liars, it became abundantly clear that audiences adore a beautiful, innocent corpse. In her searing new essay collection, Bolin probes the generations-old obsession with young, tragic heroines. The topics of her exploration open broadly, dissecting the trope in television, film, and pop culture. Subject matter becomes more personal as the book progresses, meditating on Bolin's specific curiosity about California as a dead-girl breeding ground. The book's middle section chronicles Bolin's time living in the Golden State and walking the same, dehydrated earth as Sharon Tate, Patty Hearst, and any number of Joan Didion misfortu-femmes. In the final portion, Bolin ponders the role of nonfiction in eternalizing or stunting the world's toxic dead-girl fetish; the memoirist's pen, she believes, is especially mighty. Smart, thorough, and urgent, Bolin's essays are a force to be reckoned with.--Eathorne, Courtney Copyright 2018 Booklist


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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