No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

#50: I Was a Teenage Fairy -- Francesca Lia Block

Bought this on the strength of the author's 'Weetzie Bat' books: not sure I like it as much, though it's a thought-provoking and empowering book.

The pubescent protagonist, Barbie Marks (yes, named for the doll), has an Imaginary Friend: but her imaginary friend, a minute fairy named Mab, doesn't think she's at all imaginary. She's a very American fairy, smart-talking and snappy and prone to providing therapy sessions. She is Barbie's only real friend.

In the first part of the book, that's more or less it. A few metaphors about imprisonment. A few about image. (Barbie is a child model, and her mother the epitome of rapacity.) Some refs to the Cottingsley fairy photographs; some refs to Peter Pan.

Fast-forward five years. Barbie's borderline anorexic: there's a Bad Thing in her past that she refuses to think about. Mab (who is as lewd and rude as Tinkerbell in the recent Peter Pan film) is still with her, and shares in a number of adventures -- some of them quite unsensationally (though erotically) described. (Being handbag-sized doesn't mean she doesn't appreciate pretty, sexually-ambiguous young men.)
But it's Barbie alone who reinvents herself, who triumphs over evil and frees herself from her past. And that liberates Mab too.

I nearly put this book down when I discovered from the blurb that the author was voted one of the coolest people in LA: but, as well as a clever, street-smart style (by now probably terribly dated - this was published in the 1990s), she has a gift for metaphors of a concrete sort. (LA as a reclining billboard model: the San Fernando Valley as her teenybopper sister.)

Some fine writing and some raw emotion. Shallow: but with depths. if that doesn't sound too utterly pretentious: this teen stuff is catching!

reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place

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