Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession is a collection of essays interrogating the outsize place of murdered women in American stories. So many TV dramas begin with the body of a dead girl, and eager fans devour piles of true crime books, podcasts, and TV shows. This collection is also about how this obsession is related to other constants of American culture, especially the women who escape the Dead Girl’s fate, surviving long enough to become icons. Essays contemplate Twin Peaks, Britney Spears, the cemeteries of Los Angeles, teenage werewolves, Toni Morrison, and Joan Didion, all set against a back drop of the wilderness and cities of the American West. Dead Girls is part cultural criticism and part memoir, as I attempt to understand how I have been both the target and the accomplice of a culture that prefers dead women to living ones.

Coming from Morrow/HarperCollins June 26, 2018. Pre-order here or from your local bookseller.

Advance praise for Dead Girls:

“In her searing new essay collection, Bolin probes the generations-old obsession with young, tragic heroines… Smart, thorough, and urgent, Bolin’s essays are a force to be reckoned with.”
— Booklist

“[An] engrossing debut collection of essays… The author’s voice is eerily enthralling, systematically on point, and quite funny… An illuminating study on the role women play in the media and in their own lives.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Bracing and blazingly smart, Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls could hardly be more needed or more timely. A critical contribution to the cultural discussion of gender and genre, Los Angeles and noir, the unbearable persistence of the male gaze and the furtive potency of female rage.”
— Megan Abbott, bestselling author of You Will Know Me

Dead Girls is everything I want in an essay collection: provocative lines of inquiry, macabre humor, blistering intelligence. Bolin deftly lays our TV habits and pleasure reading and musical tastes in front of us, daring us to look closer. I love this book. I want to take it into the middle of a crowded room and hold it up and scream until someone tackles me the ground; even then, I’d probably keep screaming.”
— Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties

“Alice Bolin’s DEAD GIRLS is a vivid and compelling collection challenging how we read and watch young women, alive and otherwise. Her sharp takes on the crime fiction of screen and page bleed into unnerving yet compelling visions of sisterhood and the American West. DEAD GIRLS is a compulsively readable and thoroughly enjoyable book, offering honesty and insight about the threats women face and perpetuate as we come of age.”
— Rachel McCarthy James, author of The Man from the Train

“I loved this book with reckless abandon. Alice Bolin tracks our societal fixation with violence against young women through an astonishing variety of cultural landscapes. She’s a cultural critic, a grown-up girl, and often, an enthusiastic fan of the narratives she’s pulling apart, and her ability to move seamlessly between these perspectives makes for an irresistible read. It’s wise and wonderful and I plan to press it on everyone I know.”
— Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire

“A smart, incisive book about true crime and crime fiction tropes, loneliness, Los Angeles, and literature. I will be thinking about this collection for a long while.”
— Sarah Weinman, News Editor for Publishers Marketplace and author of The Real Lolita

“I loved reading Dead Girls. I knew that I was already dead, in a way, and I knew that so many of my friends and the people I saw on TV were buried here with me, but until Alice Bolin illuminated the corners of this cemetery, I didn’t see the dazzling light around us. Her potent voice and nimble intertwining of the personal and the cultural form an incantation strong enough for a resurrection.”
— Elissa Washuta, author of Starvation Mode

 “With this book, Alice Bolin has singlehandedly rekindled my affection for criticism-as-memoir, offering a wry, supremely intelligent reinvention of the genre. Dead Girls is about living in, and through, culture; about the inseparability of art and life; about the lies we tell ourselves and other people, and the lies we love to be told. And it’s just so, so funny and sad and big-hearted. I love this writer’s every word and I look forward to reading her for the rest of my life.”
— J. Robert Lennon, author of Broken River

 “My copy of Alice Bolin’s Dead Girls is a thick flutter of dogeared pages and underlined sentences. It made me think about what I’ve read, and what I’ve written, and what I’ve experienced, in a fresh and challenging way.”
— Emily Winslow, author of Jane Doe January