The Dead Girl

Melanie Thernstrom, Author Atria Books $19.95 (430p) ISBN 978-0-671-66332-2
Thernstrom's friend Roberta ``Bibi'' Lee was a student at UC-Berkeley when she was murdered in 1984 while jogging with her boyfriend. The event proved to be a watershed in the life of the adolescently depressed, obsessively analytical author. While putatively about Bibi, her death, the investigation and the murder conviction of her lover Bradley Page--a poet who came to believe that his ``confession'' was merely a construct of his imagination--the book is really a coming-of-age story about Thernstrom herself. Prone to the view that all elements of our lives belong to an overarching ``text''--the author's mother calls living with her ``like being trapped in a high school English class forever''--Thernstrom has a literary field day with her friend's murder, seeking out ``the truth, yes, no; he did it, he didn't do it.'' An innovative if self-indulgent approach to the true-crime genre, including court transcripts, newspaper clippings and simulated extracts from Bibi's letters (the Lee family vetoed use of the actual letters), the book aspires, with uneven success, to raise new interpretive issues about crime--and life. Author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Genre: Nonfiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-671-66333-9
Paperback - 430 pages - 978-1-940436-13-5
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