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Dead Girls and Other Stories

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  134 ratings  ·  38 reviews
With lyric artistry and emotional force, Emily Geminder’s debut collection charts a vivid constellation of characters fleeing their own stories. A teenage runaway and her mute brother seek salvation in houses, buses, the backseats of cars. Preteen girls dial up the ghosts of fat girls. A crew of bomber pilots addresses the ash of villagers below. And from India to New York ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Dzanc Books
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  134 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every story in this book is so strong and singularly amazing, but Dead Girls really culminates in more than the sum of its parts. While reading it I thought about how trauma affects the perception of reality (reality of the body, reality of place, reality of experience). The book gets at some really complicated ideas, but it also works really well on both the plot and sentence level, so that it was a joy to read. I found myself reading lines aloud and jotting them down and going back to reread p ...more
Jan Stinchcomb
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful collection that examines issues of gender, sexual politics and violence. Emily Geminder's heroines travel through various American towns and onto the international stage, all while trying to make sense of a world that is not truly invested in their survival.
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
This book fully captures why I love short story collections.

Geminder is first of all, a brilliantly lyrical and magnetic writer. I couldn't help but be drawn in to her writing every time my eyes hit the page.

With stories weaving together themes about gender, identity, politics, trauma, and more, the focus of the book is on perception and the self: how the world sees us versus how we see ourselves and what comes of those perceptions. Sometimes reality wavers or is more gau
Diana Arterian
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book you find yourself putting in the hands of all your friends. Geminder investigates what it is to have a woman's body and move through the world, whether you're a foreigner in a new place or trying to escape the domestic space. Whether you're a girl or an adult. The speakers are slippery, the locations vary—yet these are connected through returning lines, characters, ideas. A powerful collection that accretes as you read.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved the way each story builds upon and complicates the others. Some stories feel like small novellas - among them "Edie," a story about aliens, belief, and the complex friendship two girls as they come of age. Other stories seem to blurring genres: part essay, part poetry. My favorites were the title story and "Choreograph," a complex exploration of mental illness, trauma, and sisterhood.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was awed by this book - the way it so generously inhabits voices, worlds, outlooks. Many of the stories explore the ways we overlap merge, overlap, identify and disidentify with each other. There's a playfulness in the way it blurs and muddies the lines between fiction and nonfiction. I wished it was longer.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why I love this book:

"The greatest fear, I sometimes think, is that we are trapped: in bodies, in rooms, in time. Or the greatest fear is that we are not—that we can spill wide open.
If one is, as Kafka says, dead in one’s own lifetime, then the heart thuds a traitorous song: alive, alive. These are the things that move unseen: blood, wind. The heart, which opens and closes invisibly, by what internal mechanism we can never really say.
Fainting, then, is catastrophe or ex
Tori Hook
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: would-recommend
I'm not sure exactly how to describe Emily Geminder's prose - dreamlike, in both its pacing and its attention to detail. Why is it that we always remember the strangest details after dreams? This book, it seems to me, is a narrative of erasure, detailing the things that erase us and our attempts to stop them. Geminder experiments with form, with narrator, even writing from the elusive "we." A phenomenal collection of stories.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, trauma, memory
Every line is gorgeous. This book kills me in the best of ways.

"I watched. I whispered. I wore her hand-me-downs like shrouds. I studied each and every one of her gestures and pulled on my second toe—it would grow longer, I thought, like hers—and this pulling became its own gesture, a secret sign between us. I was her mimic, her mime. I wanted to make myself a double. Or I wanted to grow inward, truer—toward the unspeakable part of me she seemed to speak.

There are the usu
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The stories in this collection are lyrical, yet also display an intelligence that allured me to the page. In particular, Geminder captures the confusion of coming-of-age as well as the dislocation of expat life in prose that is compelling and in a tone that manages to feel "cool," but in the best of ways.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very weird and also wonderful. A lot about ghosts but not about ghosts exactly, more like the ways we are haunted by places, people, the past.
Patrick Tierney
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Best stories evoke Offill. Choreograph, Dead Girls, Houses.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has some beautiful language and fascinating moments- but it was very hard for me to track. I usually do not read story collections for some of the reasons in this story collection: repetition between unrelated stories, the feeling of lost time and place, lack of general clarity of subject. That being said, there are still good things about this collection. And who knows, maybe I’ve been reading too much lately that is so good that eh, okay makes me sadder than it should.
Casi May
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
captures the dreaminess of childhood perfectly... "edie" reminded me of ferrante but with aliens. i also just really loved the language.
Andrea Lerner
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an intriguing collection, the kind that keeps shifting, unsettling the ground beneath your feet. Certain stories circle back to each other and call into question what you thought you knew. Would recommend this one highly.
Julia Lowry
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is doing something rare and phenomenal. Some of the stories remind me of the writing of Maggie Nelson or Jenny Offill. I love the way the later stories seem to be blurring fiction and nonfiction.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Doing really powerful work in the interstices of imagination and memory. Reminiscent of Denis Johnson, Maggie Nelson, etc. - a lot of lines I had to write down. Favorite stories were Dead Girls and Choreograph.
Lori Saporito
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had no intention of reading all of the stories in this book. I'm not a fan of short stories and only picked up the book because I knew the author as a young girl.
Within 24 hours I had read the entire book, not missing a single sentence. Oh my goodness. What compelling stories, what absolutely beautiful writing.
Thank you, Emily, for pursuing your dreams of becoming an author. I'm looking forward to future books.
Cora Reed
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The language is exquisite and can seem almost dreamlike, but it has an undercurrent of pure steel. It explores gender and geopolitics and violence and love with precise, gorgeous prose and never flinches from the uncomfortable in-between spaces. Instead, it relishes them. Research is woven in without ever distracting from the narrative and--if you're anything like me--you'll google a few things when you can put the book down to find out even more. These stories are filled with curiosity about th ...more
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A haunting collection of stories that span the globe from Cambodia to India and back to the United States. The stories are fast paced and easy to read in 24 hours but they will linger and come back to mind long after you have finished the book. Using lyrical and beautiful language, the author fearlessly touches on themes of violence, death, mental illness and sexual harassment inviting the reader to want to wonder about her characters. I can't wait to read more from this author.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book about connections between people, mostly dead but not necessarily girls, unfortunate events, literature, choreography, mental illness, Prince songs, and the time the Undertaker threw Mankind off Hell in a Cell. Easily the most intelligent thing I've read in years, though to be fair I mostly read dumb things. The author makes excellent use of intertextuality and research to vividly communicate her ideas.

Bonus points for writing about adventures in Asia without sounding like one
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book about how, as we age, foreignness and childhood become a kind of ghostly presence that we will ever be haunted by, and fear, and love. How we cross that border endlessly and never stop. And about the cruelty that humans are capable of when the ghosts are unexplainably angry. I love how books so seemingly disparate in subject matter can feel united--that thread is endlessly satisfying to me.
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book came into my life at just the right time. I found myself underlining so many sentences. It's not about death, per se - more like the ways women are elided via erasure, gender-based violence, and other modes of silencing. That sounds bleak, but there are many moments of joy, laughter, and beauty here too.
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A really beautiful writer. These stories are engaging and fresh, all dealing in some way with what it means to live in the "aftermath" - whether personal, political, historical. The stories range from friendships between girls to conversations between ghostly pilots, but all think deeply about what it means to be more or less than one person, and how identities may blur.
Brittany Morrison

There were a lot of really good stories here, but a few that I really had to force myself to finish. I feel like this always happens when I read collections though, if there are one or two I don’t care for it kind of drags my overall rating down.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read the full review here:

It's a short but very intense collection that focuses on subject matter that I don't usually seek out, but found myself really intrigued by all the same.
Donna Freeman
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved
A provocative and compelling debut. All the stories are written in radically different forms yet they felt all very connected too.
Valerie Lacey
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Spectacular. I wanted some of these stories to be novels.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Truly spectacular
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Emily Geminder is the author of Dead Girls and Other Stories, winner of the Dzanc Books Short Story Prize. Her work has appeared in AGNI, American Short Fiction, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, Tin House, Witness, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Glenna Luschei Award, an AWP Intro Journals Award, and a Pushcart special mention. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is currently a Provos ...more
“There are the usual ways of falling in love. Less talked about are the ways in which one person may decide to become another. To transform, to transfigure. To come through the slow sludge of metamorphosis and find oneself changed.” 1 likes
“Sometimes I think I might have invented you. We’re always inventing each other, in a way. We need witnesses. We need witnesses—not many, even just one—to the impossibly long sentence we write with our days.” 1 likes
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