Friday, February 11, 2011

Review: Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat

This is going to be short, breezy review for a short, breezy book. Weetzie Bat is a shimmering little soap bubble of a story. I found it whimsical, but if you don’t think a title character who exclaims “lanky lizards!” and a paramour named My Secret Agent Lover Man are fun, this is probably not the book for you. 

Yes, it is as surreal and sunny and bohemian as those examples indicate. Weetzie and her gay boyfriend Dirk are hipsters ahead of their time, flapper and rat pack and beatnik and punk rock. They revel in the glamour of old Hollywood while taking joyrides and cruising in nightclubs. A genie intrudes briefly, turning the sparkling realism into magical realism, though the story is still very much about people. It tackles divorce, choosing your own family, AIDS, and love lost but not gone.

Weetzie Bat is also a love letter to the “jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city” of Los Angeles, which Block charmingly calls “Shangri-L.A.” The book, like the fictional version of the city, is filled with vibrant characters, run-on sentences, and gorgeous language. Please see:

“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.”

I’d definitely take this slinky novel out for a spin if you’ve read this far. It brightened up my winter and a dentist appointment. A bit of trivia: Block has a dog named “Vincent Van Go Go Boots.” That’s the cat’s pajamas.

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