By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 2, 2007 4:13PM
The world over, there is no place we'd rather be than Chicago. Sometimes though, with spring bringing only blustery winds and rain, it's nice to bury ourselves in a book that puts us someplace warm and dry.
We'd been told about Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books sometime ago, wrote it down in our moleskine, and forgot about it. So when three people in the last week mentioned Block to us, we thought it was time to discover the young-adult series. We went to Barnes and Noble to read the first chapter and see if we wanted to buy it, and ended up reading the entire book in one sitting. We bought it anyway.
Block published Weetzie in 1989, a love letter to punk/rock/old-Hollywood/alt Los Angeles, referred to in the book as Shrangi-L.A. Block treats L.A. in its hidden treasures, the places you only know if you grow up there.
The eponymous Weetzie hates high school and wears clothes she makes from children's bed sheets. When she meets her to-be best friend Dirk, a boy with a black Mohawk, in art class, he compliments her feathered headdress. "'Thanks I made it,' she said, snapping her strawberry bubble gum. 'I'm into Indians. They were here first and we treated them like shit.'" Dirk admits to Weetzie that he's gay, and she's overjoyed that now they can go "duck hunting" (date hunting) together.
There's a genie and three wishes involved, under-aged drinking, a man named My Secret Agent Lover Man, one-night stands, suicide, AIDS, and a baby conceived by ménage a trois. The subject matter in Weetzie is mature and some of it dealt with irreverently, so parents be advised. That said, the situations take place in a dream reality where anything can and does happen.
After almost 20 years, Block's terse prose and creamy sense of time still immerse us in a brilliant view of punk rock and Hollywood glamour Los Angeles with fantastic characters.