Rejectionist Book Review Smorgasbord Day Four

Yesterday at the Union Square farmer's market we passed a lady dressed as a giant piece of bacon, interviewing a man at a table advertising psychic consultation/life coaching services, being filmed by a large television crew. It did not occur to us to find anything about this scenario out of the ordinary until a few moments later, when we overheard a couple of tourists discussing it in hushed tones of awe. We are pretty sure this unstudied nonchalance means we are as officially New York as a grass-fed West Coast hippie can get, Author-friends! We've come a long way from the day we walked six blocks to eat our lunch in Madison Square Garden because we thought it was a park. Mmm hmm.

Okee, here you are. Book four, and our LIVER. This is HARD. We aren't even LOOKING at NON-FICTION. Maybe that will be another whole week.

Today's theme song: Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (IS TOO a protest song. Shut up.)

No. 4: Francesca Lia Block, Dangerous Angels

We have now reverted to shameless cheating, because Dangerous Angels is in fact an anthology of five books ( Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, and Baby Be-Bop ). But they are all short. And related. Kind of like chapters, yes? Fine, if we must choose: Block's first novel, the pop-punk anthem Weetzie Bat , the book that defined an entire generation of Sassy -raised zine-trading combat-boot-and-prom-dress-to-school-wearing young (mostly) ladies. Francesca Lia Block's writing is sheer magic, a jewelry box packed to bursting with rhinestone tiaras and crazy old lady brooches and feathers and Christmas lights. Nobody since has ever put sentences together quite like her, though plenty of people have tried, and we would argue that Francesca Lia Block is as important (and as underappreciated) as the legendary S.E. Hinton in creating the possibility of an entire genre of literature for smart, restless, alienated teenagers and the smart, restless, alienated adults they'd turn out to be. It's easy to underestimate Weetzie Bat ; but under the sheer delight of her loopy and brilliantly imaginative Shangri-L.A. is a fiercely strong message of hope and love, and a transcendent mythology that returns always to the necessity of family and friends in dark times. Weetzie Bat was our first signal, as a young person, that there were in fact other people in the wide universe who thought like us, and we reread our first copy until its covers fell off; a few years later, we had the inestimable pleasure of introducing FLB at the bookstore we worked at back in the day (her reading fell, coincidentally, on our nineteenth birthday, and our copy of Dangerous Angels is inscribed Happy Birthday! Love, Francesca). She was every bit as delightful and charming and tiny and gorgeous and sparkly as her perfect, perfect novels. Weetzie Bat and its sequels are each their own little rapturous clouds of delight, striking and funny and wildly original and ferocious: dangerous angels indeed.