Dark Part in Vancouver – Tomohiro Ibi

by capreviewroom

       Dead Girls is a book with a collection of eight short stories written by Nancy Lee in 1970. Throughout the book, she focuses on issues such as sexuality, drugs, family affairs, and homelessness, all of which written vividly, emphasizing to reader that those problems are dismissed by our society.

     Lee, being a resident of Vancouver, navigates the readers who are from Vancouver, and are familiar with the local geography by introducing actual locations around the city to help us understand the movements of each character from place to place.

       Lee deliberately sets eight stories in reverse chronological order by presenting a report about Thomas Coombs, a serial killer who has connections with the missing women throughout this book. It seems this book just contains eight independent short stories, In the first story, Associated Press, the main character is selected for a jury duty – Coombs killed a woman, and buried her in his backyard. Needless to say, this happened after his arrest. In Rollie and Adele, he almost kidnaps a homeless girl. In Sisters, the main character, Grace, looks for Nita, her elder sister, who disappeared after she stole money from the cashier at work. Assuming from the previous storyline, this case involves Coombs, and she is one of the victims.
    Lee presents to us a variety of style and point of view in the book. The structure of Sally in Parts is unique.  She divides the story into Sally’s body parts (Sally’s eye, lungs etc), and explains the relationship with her and her father and their conflicts. As Sally grows up, she and her father’s relationship fades away. She also uses a different point of view in Associated Press. In this story, instead of using a third person’s view, the main character is described as “you.” “You” is obsessed with “that boy” whom she rarely sees because he is a photographer in Associated Press, and is constantly out of the city. His absence makes her accept the relationship with “this boy” whom she met in the jury court. The story ends when “you” decides to break up with “that boy” because she has an abortion as a consequence of having a physical relationship with “this boy.” Lee’s effective use of second person narrative in Dead Girls makes it different from the other stories she has written in the third person. This allows the readers to feel as if they are observing this story from a certain distance; not too subjectively but not too objectively. It can enhance the readers’ understanding of the main character’s feeling as well as the storyline more effectively.

      At the beginning, Dead Girls lets the readers down because the main theme of this book includes dark and disturbing issues such as drug abuse, violence, poverty, and prostitution. However, those issues actually exist as a reality in the city of Vancouver, and I think Lee’s purpose is to let each of us pay attention to these problems and to consider them seriously. I recommend this book for people from Vancouver as well as people from other countries to deeply understand the city of Vancouver.


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