Posts tagged ‘Dead Girls’

April 11, 2012

The Dark and Concealed Vancouver – Wendelyn Ramos

by capreviewroom

Dead Girls, written by Nancy Lee is a collection of eight independent short stories that all connect to one another through a serious current event that is haunting their city of Vancouver. The eight short stories: Associated Press, Sally, in Parts, Valentines, Dead Girls, East, Young Love, Rollie and Adele, and Sisters deal with topics that can be uncomfortable for some readers. Lee’s decision to incorporate prostitution, drugs, addiction, poverty, and death into her short stories definitely makes Dead Girls a book that stirs up controversy and interesting discussions.

 The setting for this collection primarily surrounds the downtown east side of Vancouver that highlights the dark and concealed poverty of the city. As a resident of Vancouver, you come to a realization of what is happening around you and what is usually not spoken of. Lee unquestionably chose to expose the truth about Vancouver’s downtown east side and not sugarcoat anything. An advantage I found as a reader and as a Vancouverite was the ability to visualize a majority of the setting in the short stories. For example, in “Sisters” the short story Grace is introduced to Harbour Centre, “ ‘You should go to Harbour Centre,’ he says, pointing up, up. ‘You’ll see it all from there.’”(282) From living in Vancouver, I the reader was able to visualize in my mind what the view Grace would be able to see and have a better understanding as to why it is a good place to see all of Downtown Vancouver.

Lee’s style of writing and point of views in each short story differs which reminds the reader that each story is independent and is not intended to be read as one entire novel divided into chapters. In “Associated Press” the short story is written in second person where as in “Young Love” the short story is in first person. A unique style of writing Lee uses is in her short story “Sally, in Parts.” Lee’s way of using Sally’s body parts to tell the story makes this short story from the eight really stand out. Lee’s variety in her collection gives the reader a fresh start when reading each short story.

The eight short stories share a commonality by the way the decisions the characters make shape their lives. Lee shows the honest truth of women getting steered into the wrong direction and the short stories show what can happen when temptation gets in your way and how it can take a toll on your life. With the different themes and life lessons in each short story, Lee is still able to have the serious current event linger throughout Dead Girls. With this hidden plot, the collections of short stories come together as a whole. The depiction of prostitution and murder plays a key role in bringing a sense of urgency and intensity into the already dramatic and engaging stories. Although some may agree that this book is primarily steered towards females, these intense and provocative stories will surely impact any reader.

March 23, 2012

The Dead Girls are Beautiful

by capreviewroom

Dead Girls, by Nancy Lee is a novel that will shock and surprise readers with it’s vivid and strong set of characters and narration that at first glance seems confusing, but manages to give more meaning to these loosely connected short stories. Dead Girls makes a bold leading motif that will captivate readers.

The characters in Dead Girls strongly bound by Lee’s description of emotional pain and conflict. All stories are of young women in Vancouver facing with the emotional peril and ruthlessness of relationships, sex, loss, and despair. Grace in “Sisters” must deal with her broken heart after her older sister, Nina unintentionally hooks up with her crush, Kevin, and must take bigger responsibilities when Nina leaves the house to her and her mother alone. In “Associated Press” A girl is faced with emotional attachment to a boy overseas conflicting with her sexual intimacies. The strong sense of reality in all the characters set a chilling extraordinary novel to read.

The narration in Dead Girls well thought using a variety of sorts that does not confuse, but immerses the reader in the collection of short stories. In “Rollie and Adele” for example, reverses the chronology order. “Associated Press” is written in a second-person point of view with good effectiveness, while “Sally, in Parts” uses anatomy to narrate the relationship between a young woman and her father and her advancing sexual nature. All of these artistic jumps aid to the impact of the narration and bring Lee’s characters to life.

In all stories, except “Sisters” there is a mentioning of a investigation of remains of a number of murdered women found in the yard of a Vancouver dentist. The whole story of this is never told and is spread out in bits such as news and rumours. The murders are mysterious and eerie due to their absence and little recognition. Dead Girls is a thrilling, unnerving and wily novel.

– Review by Michael Nguyen

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

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

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

Life Is In “Dead Girls”

by capreviewroom

by Edward Tang

      Nancy Lee makes eight stories as a whole collection in the book which is linked by a recent serial killer case who killed several prostitutes. “Associated Press”, as a beginning of the book, reveals the relationships among “you” – the narrator, “this boy” – a salesman “you” meet in the jury duty and “that boy” – a photographer “you” loved for a long time. the second story “Sally in Parts” is an story with a interesting structure. In this story, the main character’s body was “reconstructed” by life because of her father was hospitalized and her cancer. “Valentines” is a story about a young boy Joey, who is 15 years old, offer his young girlfriend, Jess, who is 14 years old, to his rich friend, Kyle. Following “Valentines” is the title story, “Dead Girls”. This story show us the impact of a missing teenager prostitutes on her parent’s relationship. The family hardly became a broken home because her disappearance but recovered after her mother found her. Annie and Jemma is the main character of the fifth story, “East”. “East” shows us the experiences they have during their mini-trip toward Vancouver East side. “Young Love” explores the relationships among the main character, her husbands friend and a young teenager. It shows us how Mary flirts with them and enjoy the relationships. As the name of the seventh story, “Rolie and Adele” open the life and relationships between Rolie, an artist, and Adele, a prostitute. The last story “Sister” show us how the differently two sisters, Grace and Lisa, behaves in life and to Kevin.

      All these stories are influenced by a serial killer case and numbers of vanished prostitutes. People’s life was more or less changed by the events. Not like other science fictions or romance, this book is rely on real society. You can find the actual place inVancouvereven certain buildings which makes the characters alive. When the reader is reading the story, they can open the map and imagine the sense and how they will reflect in the story. Just make a book become a true life. For a story infused with eroticism,Nancydescribe a lot about prostitutes’ life and women’s perspective. In fact, most of the main characters are women. She use first, second and third personal view to write this book to lead us considering the state of women in the society and thinking if this or that event happened, how we will react. A book which is worth to read.

March 21, 2012

What Where They Thinking?

by capreviewroom

Nancy Lee’s Dead Girls is a fictional collection of short stories, which does a fantastic job by including very detailed, descriptive scenes accompanied with flawless writing. Each story serves to provides an analysis on how the writer views missing “girls” in society, and implements the themes of loss, individualism, and family carefully in each short story.

In the first short story, Associated Press, we can see alienation through the female narrator who obsesses over “the boy” who she accepts all bad behavior from, but still tries to keep up with her normal life when he is not around. “ You were someone else when that boy was in town” (Lee 23)

Individualism, another predominant theme, is showed through the short stories East and Sisters. In East we can see how two women are trying to escape the security that their current life has, and are trying to be more individualistic as well as adventurous. This is shown when they went to rocks at a prison just for fun shouting “You fucking freaks! I hope they rape the shit out of you!” (Lee 245)  and then we can also see the attempt of one of them to get back to their routine life when she says “Okay. We did it. Now let’s go”  (Lee 241).

Sisters has a theme of individualism as well as a family in it. We see how a girl runs out of her home, mother and sister, to pursue a life with a guy who it ultimately doesn’t work out but still gives her a sense of independence as she chooses to live in the city as a consequence of it. By doing this she destroys her small family, but Lee shows a shocking ending when the other sister who has been betrayed by the older sister still has enough warmth and forgiveness to go visit her older sister and still cares for her. She says, “I’m going to visit Nita” (Lee 439). Here we can also see how people are ultimately good inside, and no matter how much suffering they may encounter, it will just make them a better person at the end. It was a brilliant way for Lee to end her book with.

As for Young Love, which is about a drug addict nurse, who experiences a loss in every area of her life, as she proves she has no goals, is drifting through life, and misses being desirable to men. When she decides to have sexual intercourse with a younger guy while being affected with drugs she says, “His body was harder than I remembered bodies ever being.” (Lee 288)

So my question upon completing this novel was: What where these “dead” girls thinking? In each story Lee did a fantastic job at looking to in-depth problems that women face in every stage of their life, and how these also affect the society in which they live in, for example the missing women in Vancouver East side which she found while she was searching for a theme on which to write this book about. Lee also has told the press that she followed the advice of a fortuneteller, which changed her way of viewing life. She said to her “You’re doing the wrong thing in your life and until you do the right thing you’ll never be happy. We can see how the long quest for happiness and not knowing how to obtain it also reflects in the way she writes her book.


“Grim Theme Seems Prescient-June 9, 2002.” http://WWW.MISSINGPEOPLE.NET. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <,_2002.htm&gt;.

Lee, Nancy. Dead Girls. London: Faber, 2004. Print.

By: Alejandra R

March 21, 2012

“Dead Girls” Proves To Be Enticing and Fearless – Ali G

by capreviewroom

                We are all intertwined through the smallest details in life but this is something we all tend to forget. Dead Girls, a short story collection written by Nancy Lee, does a fantastic job of reminding us of this by taking the reader into eight different stories of the lives of strangers and their unconventional connection through one despicable act – a serial killer on trial for the murder of numerous prostitutes. Lee takes us into these somewhat tragic lives which have all been scarred with some sort of violence, pain, or loss, combined with drugs, alcohol, and sex to depict real life experiences and trauma that are all too often ignored.

          Set in Vancouver, Dead Girls portrays vivid imagery throughout every story, engaging the reader and walking them through each scene with every precise and deliberate word choice. Whether it’s the heartbreaking imagery of a young girl in “Sisters” taking a break from the cold and wet conditions of her job as a prostitute, “[rubbing] her calves together to get warm, [patting] her face with a paper napkin, careful not to smudge her eyes,” (239) or the vivid description of a hookup between an woman and a much younger boy in “Young Love,” Dead Girls fears no territory. Switching between first person, second person and third person narration, Lee tells the story through all eyes, ensuring boredom with this novel is never an option.

         Though many different lives are explored in the stories that comprise Dead Girls, the common theme that draws them together is loss. Whether it is lost forever or lost for the time, or a figurative loss, all the main characters of the stories experience loss in some way.  Lee shows no fear in illustrating these losses and the different methods of coping with them through extensive details such as the broken mother in “Sisters” who “saved a plate of food from every meal [her daughter] missed” (272). Lee’s other method of drawing the stories together, the back story of the murder trial of a local doctor, also ensures that the reader must be following along closely to catch the characters interactions with the secondary story, each giving away different details about the doctor turned killer that impacts all the individuals lives and current situations in a different way.

          All in all, Dead Girls is not only an interesting read but it is well worth it. It does more than just entice the reader with its powerful topics of often taboo subjects but actually challenges the reader to follow along with the happenings of a murder trial through eight entirely different lives of complete strangers. Lee not only accomplishes moving the reader but succeeds in breaking hearts and challenging opinions as well as causing reflection onto oneself and one’s own cultural and social experiences of life throughout the entire read.

March 20, 2012

A City Without Boundaries

by capreviewroom

The subject of loss is not an uncommon theme in story-telling. The loss of love, loss of connections we’ve once had, and the loss of one’s self are both troubling and fascinating in the right context.  Few books are able to hold a reader’s undivided attention, but Nancy Lee’s Dead Girls is surely one of those books. The raw, explicit and detailed accounts of the numerous short stories contained within, beckon the reader forward to absorb the collection as a whole.

Where most readers pick up a book and are transported somewhere in the world they have only dreamed about, “Dead Girls” hits home with local readers, as Lee describes the views of the city from the top of the Harbour Centre in “Dead Girls” to “the point dimly lit by the glow of the Lion’s Gate Bridge” in “East”. Readers are given the opportunity to connect with the stories on a much more personal level. Simply knowing the area in which the stories take place in, add a sense of realism and insight to each story.

While each story in Dead Girls features different characters of varying ages, backgrounds, and life experience, the common theme throughout is loss, and the different ways in which people cope with loss. From divorce to a sisterly bond that cannot be broken, Lee does not tip toe around a subject. The intended adult audience is presented with work that stimulates similar memories of that of each character. Whether or not the reader can relate to the character is another story, “I wondered how much I had taken that day, the Dexedrine, the tigers, the Ativan, the Percocet” but Lee showcases each character in a way that we never find out why the character is the way they are, but the reader never second guesses the believability of the character.

From a pill-addicted nurse, to a night out with no direction, to a marriage torn apart from a missing daughter, Dead Girls is a collection with no set agenda. Each story does not build on its predecessor, yet each piece is such an important part of the overall collection. Dead Girls is a fantastic book, and one that begs multiple readings. Lee’s uninhibited views of dealing with loss and the darker side of the city of Vancouver are captivating and provocative. Dead Girls will leave you thinking long after you put down the book.

Liam Scott-Curr