Other Girls to Burn is a collection of essays that explores the relationship between women and violence within such contexts as the 2014 Isla Vista shooting, early Christian virgin martyrs (discussed in relation with modern true crime stories), mixed martial arts, and rape culture. Formally inventive and lyric leaning, these essays shift between cultural criticism and personal essay and cohere around a central motif of female mystics. With them, Caroline Crew asks, What does it mean for women to be complicit in the violence of the patriarchy? How do women navigate risk as well as revel in thrill? What does it mean to both fear and perpetuate violence?
The essays explore disparate cultural touch points, such as contemporary feminism, race, hagiography, the Salem witch trials, dementia, fairy tales, Eurydice, indie music, gender performance, Anne Boleyn, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, family dysfunction, and vaginismus, to name a few. Together, this collection is in conversation with contemporary nonfiction writers such as Maggie Nelson, Sarah Manguso, and Anne Boyer.
The world turns in Crew's vision, essay by essay, renewed or revealed in ways only she can provide, and all of it brought to us in a voice I'd follow into any topic-propulsive, lyrical, able to turn on a dime, as the expression goes. The result is a guide to the trap doors this culture sets up for women, and the landscape only visible once you fall through. An unforgettable debut.
—Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
To call this stunning book of essays 'researched' is inadequate. Centuries of arcane history-some straight to the heart, some only apparently discursive and then not-have been so absorbed by Crew that they inform how she thinks, lives, and breathes. Telling the truth sideways, telling it at a slant, she angles in on all the ways the world asks women to keep their secrets or self-combust. A beautifully perfect debut.
—Debra Monroe, author of My Unsentimental Education
Other Girls to Burn
blazes from within with Caroline Crew's remarkable twinned energies: she is curious, and she is furious. The places these energies take her, through histories intimate and global, peering into language like a witch scrying deep waters, will astonish her readers. Open this book with care; it just might set your mind alight.
—Heather Christle, author of The Crying Book
Like a controlled burn sparked by a hellfire-lit cigarette, Caroline Crew's Other Girls to Burn
blazes with supernatural insight. In poetic essays welded together with mastery, Crew flame-throws the cobwebbed dungeons of a sweltering ivory tower, boils ancient mythology into the complicated truth-telling of family, and sparks a rainbow altar to the five-alarm firepower of her eclectic artistic forebears: Against Me!, Kathy Acker, My Favorite Murder
, and Joan Mitchell, to name a few. A catalog of white-hot tears that brought me to ash then brought me back to life, soaring in the light of its sparkling embers.
—Sadie Dupuis, poet, musician, and vocalist/lyricist for Speedy Ortiz