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Monday, 12 September 2011

Books That Will Change Your Life: Weetzie Bat

photos by wildfox, of course!
Francesca Lia Block is easily my favorite author of all time.  In her first book Weetzie Bat she uses her prose to create vivid, magical imagry of a "jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city" where "you can buy tomahawks and plastic palm tree wallets at Farmer's Market, and the wildest, cheapest cheese and bean and hot dog and pastrami burritos at Oki Dogs".  Her characters are strong, exciting women who see the magic in everyday life and the wonderful, weird people they meet along the way.  It's a story that manages to be magical and glittery, but edgy and punk rock at the same time.  It also doesn't hurt that they all have an amazing sense of fashion.  The girl pictured above is Wildfox's interpretation of what they think Weetzie would look like, eating one of her beloved Oki Dogs.  That's one of the things I love most about novels is you can make the characters out to be anything you want in your head!  I've spent hours scouring deviantart for people's different interpretations of the characters to see how their ideas vary from mine.  

It's a book that teaches you to dream, to look beyond the ordinary to "Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth."   To see the magic in the world.  Weetzie has a life we all dream of filled with delicious food: "a picnic of salsa, home baked bread still steaming in it's crust, hibiscus lemonade and cake decorated with fresh flowers", amazing clothes: "sometimes she wore Levi's with white fringe sewn down the legs and a feathered headdress, sometimes old fifties taffeta dresses covered with poetry written in glitter" and the kind of love that all teenage girls (and maybe some of us older ones!) dream about: "He kissed her.  A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven't eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs."

How could you not want to read it?!  Oh did I mention it's only 70 pages?  Fret not, Weetzie Bat is the first book of five in the Dangerous Angels series and they are all just as good as the first.  They tell the stories of her daughters Witch Baby and Cherokee as they grow and struggle with love, music and personal identity.  The fifth book, Baby Be-Bop, gives more insight into Dirk, Weetzie's mohawked, gay best friend.  FLB was never afraid to tackle serious issues such as homosexuality "Any love that is love is right", suicide "Grief is not something you know if you grow up wearing feathers with a Charlie Chaplin boyfriend" and having children "There are way too many babies.  And diseases.  And nuclear accidents.  And crazy psychos.  We can't have a baby."  But no matter what trials and tribulations befall this adorable, luminescent family everything always seems to turn out happily ever after, or at least...happily.  Which is really what we all want, isn't it?

Her books can be kind of hard to find in bookshops, so online is your best bet for purchase.  
Weetzie Bat is just the first book, Dangerous Angels is a collection of all five books and Necklace of Kisses catches up with Weetzie when she's older and having a midlife crisis.

You can find Francesca Lia Block online on her twitter or on her blog

Read it.  It will change your life.


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