Archive for March, 2012

March 21, 2012

Not Flawless, But Not Forgotten

by capreviewroom

A “Dead Girls” review by Jane Agyeman

Nancy Lee’s “dead girls” is a compilation of short fictional about the grippingly emotional tales of sexual horror and discoveries of different woman throughout The Lower Mainland. It put the reader into lives of the characters in explicit and almost intrusively uncomfortable ways, exposing them and at the same time humanizes them, even those who have lives that are often seen as unacceptable socially. these stories are connected not only by there similar theme, but by the constant background presenst of a horrific convicted serial killer. Though this collection is by no means flawless, it is heartfelt, give one a glimpse into the mind of the destitute and, intern reflects the state of gentrification in a society unwilling to face its own imperfections. Lee writes what she knows,basing the book in her home town. This giving her addition depth of an elavated knowledge that comes with being in direct contact with the understated themes and contravercial sujbect matter of the society that she writes about.

This story, in my opinion is not without its flaws. Though this story tries to draw the interest and concern of all peolpe who read it this story may not be as appealing to males as it is to female due to the mentally intrusive nature of the content and the predominantly female perspective of the subject matter. Also, i personally think that Lee’s need to make the main characters as humanized and understandable as possible seem to create oversimplified charater perspectives, and rarely acknowledge the perspectives of the surrounding characters. It is also struturally flawed. Structurally the story seems to be limited and the character and plot seem to be lacking something. They are both elements that seem to need more detail and individuality.

This book does have it flaws, but much like the characters in Lee’s book, the overall it message is one that make this book one that should not be forgotten.

March 21, 2012

Growth- by Nina Scholz

by capreviewroom

‘In the skin of a lion’ is a fictional novel by Michael Ondaatje first published in 1987. It is a story about love and growth. Ondaatje is looking to capture the sense of life that was Toronto’s beginnings. The reader follows the story through the eyes of the main character Patrick Lewis, whose life is touched by the immigrant workers that helped build Toronto in the early 1900s. It is a fantastic attempt to give names and stories to the workers and the conditions in which they worked in.

The story starts with Patrick Lewis as a young boy, as he lives in a little village with his father. He watches the loggers come every winter, hears their strange accents and can’t, at this point, quite pin point why they are different. Patrick learns how to work with dynamite by working with his father, this, as almost all parts of the story, plays a vital role at a later part of the novel. As it says at a later point “He carries out the old skill he learned from his father-although then it had been in sunlight, in rivers, logs tumbling over themselves slowly in the air.”

Through Patrick Lewis’s life, we get a thorough understanding of the city, the working conditions, as well as other people around him. Ondaatje describes in detail aspects that help emphasize what he is trying to tell us about these immigrant workers. “As the day progresses heat rises in the tunnel. The men remove their shirts and hammer them into the hard walls with spikes. Patrick can recognize other tunnellers on the way home by the ragged hole in the back of their shirts.”

Two women, who have an impact on Patrick and the story in very different, yet interesting ways, intersect Patrick’s life at various points. His love for either is captured in a beautiful and yet painful way that leaves you wanting to know more about their lives. The novel is fantastically written, using flashbacks and sections, Michael Ondaatje really ties together the book step by step, allowing the reader to grow with the story, never giving away the ending prematurely.  It is a great read that leaves you wondering whether seemingly small occurrences at the time, may play a greater part in the future- just as the immigrant workers were ignored then, but have now been giving names and a story through Micheal Ondaatjes ‘In the skin of a lion’.

Micheal Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to Canada in the 1960s after having lived in England for a while. It is interesting to note, that Micheal Ondaatje is an immigrant himself. This could explain, why he wanted to write a novel that would give a face to the immigrants that helped build Toronto. Ondaatjes’ research for the novel lead him to spend quite some time in the Toronto City archives, where he found a lot of pictures of the process of building the city, however, the men who were building it, were not mentioned; they were just faces with no names, their story was never told.


March 21, 2012

A Reality Check

by capreviewroom

Nancy Lee cleverly slips a bit of modern day Vancouver into the heart of her short stories compilation, Dead Girls. The novel in its entirety is plagued by graphic scenes of violence, drug abuse and sex which is used to alert readers on how crude the present day world stands. 

The collection of short stories each surround women of different ages with different occupations and whom live in different parts of BC but are all part of the same society. The short stories compel the readers to think; to question our own behaviour and how it affects the flaws in our world today.

Lee takes us back to roughly a decade ago when crime stories featuring missing women were particularly high in Vancouver; specifically, the shocking news reports about the Robert Pickton case during that time. “Dead Girls”, along with the other seven short stories, allow us to perceive society’s news from a different point of view.

“Sally, in Parts” is particularly unique apart from the other stories, which immediately throws bits of present day conflict to the reader’s attention right from the beginning. Written lightly at the start, we can feel an understandable innocence of the main character, Sally. However, it is not until a few pages later that the reader, engrossed in the thrilling pace of it all, will realize that Lee has put a horrifying conflict into play. Common everyday problems of self-esteem, confidence and lust unravel at an alarming pace -while still written in a moderately innocent narration.

Dead Girls is a brilliant piece of modern day literature that strikes us with serious questions about today’s society and how we, as readers, though different with age, occupation, living standards, and background may not be directly involved but may be unsettlingly related to such matters-to our collective society’s matters.


-Anna C.

March 21, 2012

A Story that changes views frequently by Nick

by capreviewroom

Mrs. Dalloway a novel by Virginia Woolf tells a story covering one day from morning to night about a woman (Clarissa Dalloway) who is an upper class housewife and the party she plans to host that evening. Surprisingly her long time friend Peter Walsh visits her and asks a sudden question about her happiness but is cut short after Clarissa’s daughter comes in. This story goes through quite a few of point of views and switches from Clarissa to Peter to Septimus. Septimus being a war veteran who is tormented by his experience in the war and tries to rehabilitate himself by seeing Sir William Bradshaw a highly celebrated therapist who attempts to fix Septimus while his wife Lucrezia does her best to try to cope with the reality of Septimus having a severe mental illness.

In the beginning and middle of the story the point of view changes rapidly between the 3 major characters and the story reveals the relationships between Peter and Clarissa and Septimus and Lucrezia not surprisingly the relationship between Peter and Clarrisa is dominantly shown and it is clearly revealed that they have a far from perfect relationship since Clarrisa rejected Peter’s proposal way back before the war and now the same issue is threatening Clarrisa’s happiness. During the party Clarrisa’s dissatisfaction of her own life and Septimus’s depression gives a feeling of  uncertainty to the atmosphere and when Septimus commits the suicide during Clarissa’s party she begins to take herself out of the party and think about what has happened.

Towards the end of the novel Clarissa finds herself to be more comfortable as a host and returns to a romm with Peter which fills him with excitement. The novel is definitely interesting as it ties in England as a atmosphere and setting while still telling the story of people of live in England and it won’t disappoint most readers.

March 21, 2012

Some buried lost, others living Dead- by Samineh

by capreviewroom


In her collection of beautifully written short stories “Dead girls” Nancy Lee, illustrates women’s position in society evolving her stories around the idea that men hunt women like predators hunt preys. Even though all stories have independent entities, they all involve women who are the most vulnerable in society, although some people may proclaim gender equality.

The story is unified in a way that main characters of the stories are all engaged in different dynamics of emotional brutality, loneliness, despair, loss and pain. Struggling with the power of sex and addiction. The women who had all crossed the same serial killer.

There are two levels to this story, a mass grave for girls buried lost and those living a life but dead inside. Some stories are deep, dark, and disturbing, while others are full of life with glimpses of shine and brilliance, dancing with your emotions to raise your deep consciousness of what it feels to be a human.

The stories are set in Vancouver.  Nancy Lee brings up the dark part of the town including those corners where almost no tourist and even many of the residence will not likely see neither the city nor the described characters. But the reality is that these stories exist.

The stories are dark psychological dive in the very detailed private life of eight women whose common point has been damaged by life. All stories are based on the finding of a mass grave of prostitutes in the back yard of a dentist in the East of Vancouver.

In the first story “Associated Press” the protagonist is a woman in love with a photographer, who tries to satisfy a frustrating relationship with a man who has ideal profile of the genre.
Another shocked mother in the story “Dead Girls” is still trying to protect her daughter, wondering what she missed in her childhood that she turned into a prostitute. “ you have scrutinized photos of Clare, searched for a marker, a hint in the openness of her eyes… you study them well with a magnifying glass, but there is nothing… the memory of finding her at fourteen, in the garage with a boy…  you can not pin point the event that pushed her away from childhood to adult hood…” While in another story a teenager, is hoping that her boyfriend will make her a gift for valentine’s day, while her boyfriend is preparing to sell her to one of his friends.

The time frame shifts effortlessly, stories are told in chronological order. The first story easily incorporates the past into the present narrative. Many stories are told by second person point of view, while the story “Sally in Parts” divides the story into description of different parts of sally’s body in ten parts; Sally’s lungs, eyes … , feet and Sally’s bones. Then it waves through the present, sally losing her father, but searching for a reconnection with him through sexual relationships with men.
Only  the last story “Sisters”, goes with the absence of victims; where the murderers are chilling in the significance of that absence.


March 21, 2012

A Puzzle to Nuzzle With

by capreviewroom

Michael Ondaatje’s “In The Skin Of A Lion”, is a book full of beautiful imagery, which that alone made this book fun for me to read. The narration of the story focuses a lot on the visual imagery, which sometimes allows the reader to stray away from the plot and just focus on the imagery. I feel that the reason for this, is because it allows us as readers to view the story as we do in life. We see ourselves as one in our own life story and we know all about our own story, but what about the details around us? What about the story that is going on around us? We are not alone in our life story. And that is what I think Ondaatje is trying to accomplish, which is to view this story the way you view life. The imagery that we follow in the book reveals a realistic view of the many details of life we overlook.

The opening of the story images a childhood memory. This seems to act as a foreshadow because the story that follows this opening does not seem to fit with it. However, this technique Ondaatje uses with the childhood memories, does fit with foreshadowing. It seems that the childhood memories are being used to foreshadow the themes of one’s life. Trying to anticipate the future of a character is difficult when dream images and memories distort fate. Ondaatje cleverly manipulates the current situations in the story with his use of imagery.

Although the story allows us to focus a lot on the imagery and what goes on around the characters in the book, the story does mainly focus on one character named Patrick Lewis. Ondaatje writes Patrick’s life using his random memories and experiences which eventually all come together in the end. These experiences allow Patrick to open up to the community and his past. The example of Patrick’s life shows that each persons life is not being lived on its own. Each persons life is given meaning by the people around them.

In The Skin of a Lion is a deep and complex read. You are able to see the growth and the story through Patrick, but the blurred experiences of his and imagery throws you off course. However, like a puzzle, you know the direction you want to go, and you know what to do with the pieces when you find which one fits with each other, but you don’t see each piece in order. Each image is random and out of order to you, until the end when it all comes together.


-Homer Concepcion

March 21, 2012

The Hidden Facets Of Our City

by capreviewroom

What is it that really defines us, our relationships, and our connections to the world around us?

While we prefer to remember the good in our lives, it is how we react when we are at our worst that shows us who we really are.

Nancy Lee’s collection of shorts in Dead Girls is just that. Showing how a selection of characters cope, and are affected by various situations in their lives. While in the background, being influenced or reacting to the trial of a serial killer.

Set in Vancouver, but easily relatable to any metropolitan area, Dead Girls gives us a glimpse of eight pivotal moments in the lives of these various characters. From a mother who is yearning and searching for her missing daughter, to a Tattoo shop owner taking in a homeless woman. Each of these eight short stories will pull at your emotions, and with outstanding writing, make the situations applicable in your own life.

Although each story is short, the characters within feel well flushed out, with relatable flaws that we see in ourselves and our interactions with others. While reading Dead Girls it feels impossible not to emphasize with the characters you are following.

Not only is Dead Girls a showcase of emotional pressure, loss, and impulse in the individual. It dives into the typically ignored social culture that can be found in every metropolitan area. Drugs, prostitution, violence, vandalism, and sex, Dead Girls portrays each of these taboo topics in depth throughout all eight shorts.

With her first published work, Dead Girls, Nancy Lee has shown herself to be a writer to watch for this generation.

— Justin Chapdelaine

March 21, 2012

The Gruesome Dead Girls By: Terry Lin

by capreviewroom

In the novel Dead Girls, it consists of eight short stories written by Nancy Lee. These stories are influenced by a large number of prostitutes who vanished by the hands of the serial killer, Robert Pickton. In these eight short stories, Lee instils them with impassion, poignancy and slightly underlying it with grief leaving readers to simply indulge in great literature. When one reads these short stories, Lee does a particularly good job on explaining incidents in great detail from erotic scenes to surrounding environments, helping the reader to really apprehend what is going on in the stories. The very first short story in Dead girls is called “Associated Press”, where the main characters are a girl, a male overseas salesperson and a photographer. It describes how this girl met the photographer and has a great time until the overseas salesperson calls her. It seems that every time that he calls she has a complete change of feelings toward the photographer. This story surely has a deeper meaning to it but the reader itself must figure that out when he/she reads it. This short story is told in a second person point of view, but these eight stories are not only told in second person point of view, but the narratives of these eight short stories are constantly at changing their point of views. Each story has its own unique twist to it but in the end, they all stand on one theme and that is the gruesome murder of Downtown eastside. Lee’s interesting short stories reveals the diseases and problems that lure in the darkness of a city, and the fact that these problems affect us one way or another. Lee is blatantly trying to show her audience that they should learn from what has happened and reflect on it as a society and as a whole. Dead girls is a captivating book and is definitely worth your time to read.

March 21, 2012

Hope in an ominous setting.

by capreviewroom

Nancy Lee’s aptly named short story collection Dead Girls takes us on a journey through eight interconnected stories, from a mother struggling to find her missing daughter, to a junkie nurse volunteering at a high school dance, all in the midst of a serial killer’s trail being the hot topic in the city of Vancouver. The stories deal with a variety of intense topics including sex, drugs, and poverty, hopelessness and hopefulness, all written in a very delicate fashion, though with enough attention to detail that we are enamored.  We want to unearth the untold stories of these individuals and their problems.

Lee’s interesting choice of characters, which include a sexualized thirteen year old girl in “Valentines” and a homeless woman taken in by a tattoo artist in “Rollie and Adele”, invite us to take a look past the characters surface, and explore what they really are as people, without judging them by the situations they find themselves in.  She presents us stories filled with tragedy and despair, however manages to inject the slightest bit of hopefulness, for both the characters and the city. The effectiveness of the author’s use of the second person in stories like “Dead Girls” gives us the opportunity to approach these stories from a completely unique perspective. We are the ones searching for our missing daughter, prowling the red-light district in hopes of finding someone with knowledge of her whereabouts. Lee wants to bring attention to this group of people, those without a voice, who are often easily ignored. Similarly, the opening story “Associated Press” tackles a love triangle, led by a nameless woman trying to overcome the absence of “that boy” with “this boy” which invites us to invest with the protagonist through its use of second person perspective. “Sally, in Parts” is written uniquely in the sense that it is told through chapters dedicated to different parts of the protagonist’s body; her eyes, lungs, hands, and breasts.  This structure greatly helps to propel the story of a fading relationship with her father as Sally matures sexually. The reoccurring appearance of the serial killer Coombs also works well as an incentive to keep us reading. At the end of the collections last story, “Sisters”, we are left to assume that Grace’s sister Nita has become one of his victims, thanks in part to the buildup in the previous seven stories.

Dead Girls works well on many levels including its simple, yet immersive and detailed writing style, but some readers may be turned off by the books rather grim subject matter. Lee challenges the readers to open their eyes to these issues by surrounding us with many characters who are homeless, prostitutes, or addicts. Her potency at presenting a realistic depiction of a city in peril, as well as laborious topics makes Dead Girls worth the short time it would take to read in its entirety.

– Justin B

March 21, 2012

Slow At Times, But Picks Up! Sarah Nasseri

by capreviewroom

Mrs. Dalloway, a novel by Virgina Woolf, has many dominant themes which shape the story and the actions in which the characters take throughout the story. Clarissa Dalloway, Peter Walsh, and Septimus Smith are the three main characters whose lives, individual from one another, manage to somehow intertwine.

            The story does not endure a long time span; instead, it explains the events which occur in one day. This is both a strange and refreshing change from most novels which unfold over months, or even years. With that being said, it also proves to be immensely confusing; chapters seem to be nonexistent, and you are left guessing as to whose point of view you are reading. That is quite a general flaw which does not really affect the novels quality whatsoever.

            There are not that many relationships throughout the novel. Clarissa and Peter seem to be the closest, although their relationship is far from perfect. An unconventional, yet extremely significant relationship in this book most definitely resides in Clarissa’s feelings toward Septimus—notably after his death. Although it is not too obvious, Clarissa and Septimus share a bond—unspoken, tragic, but nevertheless, there. After Septimus passes, Clarissa feels a strong sense of sadness, and feels as if she needs to go on living, for the both of them.

            The themes which are predominant in the novels are themes of death, remembrance, and melancholy. These themes are noticeable throughout the whole novel, specifically when the focus is on either Septimus or Clarissa. These two seem to share a morbid way of thinking, although for very different reasons. Clarissa’s unhappiness is confusing, and comes from her dissatisfaction with life. Septimus, however, has a legitimate reason, this reason being all the physiological damages he attributed after the war.

            The novel proves itself to be an interesting piece of work—due mainly to the stream of consciousness literary style, and its morbid themes. Once you get into it, it will surely not disappoint.