Dead Girls, Nancy Lee's debut collection of short fiction, is an intense, morbid, and distinguished book. Revolving obliquely around the arrest of a serial killer (a retired dentist who lures prostitutes to his suburban home and buries them in his backyard), these stories chronicle brief moments in the lives of characters who exist at--or beyond--the edges of reason: maladjusted horny teenagers trading sexual favours on Valentine's Day, a lonely tattoo artist falling in love with (and growing impotent before) the homeless girl he takes in, a seemingly staid Vancouver mother growing increasingly desperate in the search for her prostitute daughter.
Lee's world is strongly reminiscent of Patrick Roscoe's The Truth About Love; the two books share a graveyard sensibility and compassionate melancholy. Roscoe's book is more adventurous, but Dead Girls has much to recommend it--these stories are consistently enthralling and sometimes surprisingly funny. The real merit of Dead Girls is just that--Nancy Lee's considerable ability to leaven dire, depressing stories with grace and gentle, appropriate humour. Despite its lurid title and seemingly garish subject matter, this is a pleasingly understated collection that is well worth reading. --Jack Illingworth
“Dead Girls is among the bravest fictional debuts in recent memory and heralds the arrival of a bold and audacious new voice in Canadian writing.”
–Quill and Quire
“These are moving and gripping stories – harsh, yet delivered with delicacy and compassion. They are from a young, new writer of conspicuous talent. Read them – and you will wake from a slumber you did not know you were in.”
–Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi
“Beautifully penned, intensely moving stories.… A masterwork of revelation and catharsis.…What a gift is Nancy Lee. No review can tell you.”
–Globe and Mail
“Dead Girls heralds the arrival of a bold and audacious new voice in Canadian writing…A disturbing, threatening, and ultimately thrilling debut.”
–Quill & Quire (starred review)
“Dead Girls has a can’t-put-it-down urgency. It’s about survival and toughness – and when you least expect it, hope.”
“These stories [have] a heart-stopping power.… Meticulously crafted, every element faceted and polished.…Dead Girls reveals Nancy Lee as a writer of uncanny abilities.”
“Lee has written a book that has an unforgettable sense of urgency. Remember the name.”
–NOW (five-star review)
“How tender, beautiful, tragic and soulful these stories are. Nancy Lee creates poignant moments of utter darkness and somehow, miraculously, she fills them with pinpricks of hopeful light. This book may teach you something about yourself and the way you move through the world. I couldn’t put it down.”
“Nancy Lee writes as a young writer should – fearlessly.…Dead Girls is a standout first collection.”
“Her writing flows so eloquently, you don’t fully appreciate its sting until the sentence is over. Dead Girls is a powerful book perfectly in step with its time.…”
“Vibrant, startling, and – contradicting the book’s title – electrically alive.”
–Victoria Times Colonist
“Dead Girls is a frighteningly accomplished book.”
“Lee is a pure and fearless writer.”
Beautiful, sensual, erotic, intelligent. I'd recommend not reading all the stories in one go. Take some time with this one, it'll make the writing and images seem all more real and... Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2002
I'm not kidding when I say that. Other reviews have commented on how great the writing is, and I totally agree, but to me the most important thing about this book is that it's... Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2002 by "jwoo704"
I've read the other reviews of this amazing book & they're bang on. This girl can write & these stories will move you. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2002 by Carmen
I don't usually read short story collections, but I had read about the murders in Vancouver and so thought this book would be a timely read. Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2002 by George Getz
It was a bit of a chore getting this book in my hands but so worth the wait. I was so deeply moved by the story Sally in Parts that I had to put the book away for a few days. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2002 by "aeryn47"
I picked up this book because of my interest in Canadian writers. I found my self engulfed from the moment I picked it up. Read morePublished on Oct. 8 2002 by Aileen Green
Nancy Lee has written one of the finest, most delicately balanced and dark collection of stories I've come across, and though I usually would never write a review of a book that... Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2002 by "donkeye"