Vancouver At Its Darkest Hour

by capreviewroom

 Alessia Giacobetti

          Nancy Lee a Canadian born writer began her career with the debut of her novel Dead Girls, a collection of short fictional stories set in Vancouver, B.C. These stories revolve closely around the non-fictional event of the Pickton trials where a number of murdered women were found in the yard of a Vancouver dental surgeon. These short stories are intense, graphic, morbid and erotic. Lee has a way of creating very realistic characters that are often quite relatable to the reader and if not relatable, they at least evoke a huge amount of sympathy and understanding. These stories show brief moments in the lives of characters who exist at or beyond the edges or reason: An adolescent girl caught between two loves, a sex crazed teen craving the affection of her neglecting father, a desperate mother learning to cope with the prostitution of her changed missing daughter and growing increasingly anxious in the search for her, two women dealing with failed relationships and the disappointments of life, a lonely tattoo artist who falls in love with the homeless girl he takes in, and two sisters who’s life choices take them down two very different paths.

Dead Girls may be filled with depressing, gut wrenching truths about life but Lee also skillfully incorporates appropriate amounts of humor into her writing to capture and keep the reader’s attention.  Dead Girls is a very fast read as you are quickly pulled into and entranced by the various characters in the book. There is an easy fluidity to Lee’s stories where she explores many different points of view quite effectively. All of these different points of view contribute to the impact of the narrative and add to the characters diverse and relatable qualities.

Throughout the short stores Lee portrays Vancouver in an increasingly negative light. With stories of young women facing the brutalities of sex, intimate relationships and life’s disappointments of loss and despair. Vancouver is seen as dark, cruel and dangerous, where peer pressure and the influence of drugs and alcohol permanently lurk. For example in the story “east” when the two women take up smoking and drinking to ease their pain, or in “Young Love” when the young nurse continuously pops pills at a school dance to feed her heavy drug addiction.

Despite the morbid title and shocking subject matter and content Dead Girls is ultimately a very addicting enticing read.  It captures the reader’s attention and keeps them on their toes hungry for more detail and information. Dead Girls is disturbing, blunt, erotic, and intense, but it is ultimately a thrilling well worth reading debut.     






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