Posts tagged ‘nancy lee’

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

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

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