I've been sort of hazy and flustered and overwhelmed for the last few days. Yesterday was especially swingin' since I received the e-mail about my School of Library Science (hereafter known as SLIS) acceptance, and shortly after I received notice that the school reconsidered my residency status and I'll actually be considered a Texas resident for tuition purposes (half the price, and since I'm paying out of pocket this go-round that's a LIFE SAVER). On the heels of my acceptance, and especially because I'm late coming to the program, I called my advisor. We had a great conversation, she got my classes planned for me for Fall, and we have a phone orientation today. What a day!
Anywho, by last night I was exhausted, headachey, and supremely tired from two--count 'em, TWO--workout walk/run sessions. I'm hopping back on the fitness train, but more about that later. In short, I felt like aquarium residue, the most unpleasant thing that comes to mind right now. While I'm loving Sharp Teeth, I just wasn't in the mood for it and didn't want to concentrate too hard, but I did have a very short story collection, Blood Roses by Francesca Lia Block, on my TBR. It's an ARC I received from HarperCollins, and it looked like just the right fix for my mood.
I've read one of Block's works, The Rose and the Beast, a wonky collection of fairy tale retellings. The blurb on Blood Roses describes it this way (because I'm too lazy to do my own blurb):
A giant with too much passion. An alien boyfriend. An angel with torn wings. Changelings flourish in Francesca Lia Block's collection of magic realist stories, nine tales of transformation, wry, riveting, revealing.
Any fan of children's and adolescent fiction has probably heard of the Weetzie Bat books; I haven't read them but am more enthused to do so now. It's been so long since I read The Rose and the Beast, I wasn't sure what to expect from Block's short stories, but the book is wayyy short, 129 pages, and I knew I could finish it in just an hour or so. Soooo, I tried it. I LOVED IT!
Block's storytelling, her characters in particular, are worthy of sympathy, highly emotional, and really lovely examples of the best in young adult stories. In one of my favorite stories, "Skin Art" Elodie Sweet, a typical "valley girl" is shopping with her friend Rachel when she runs into a tattoo parlor owner named Atila. Covered in tattoos and polar opposite from Elodie's assumed stuck-upedness Atila strikes up a conversation, asks to take some pics of the girls' outlandish outfits for his MySpace page, shows them his tats, and Elodie is immediately attracted to him. Atila assures her that she's too young for him (he's 24, she's probably 16 or 17), and goes on his way. Elodie develops a significant obsession with the man so much her opposite, and beautiful tattoos begin to appear on her body. Block writes:
...the tattoos kept coming. A Tibetan goddess was sitting cross-legged on the lotus flower. Butterflies swarmed around her. Stars hung over her head. Wild animals slept at her feet.
Elodie was not that big. The tattoos soon covered all of her slender back, shoulders and hips. One morning her arms wore lace sleeves. Morning glories and oleander blossoms were clambering over her shoulders toward her breasts. A pretty but lascivious-looking fairy with battish wings flew across her abdomen. Elodie put on a long-sleeved black turtleneck and drove out of the Valley, through Laurel Canyon, down Melrose to Atila's tattoo parlor.
Her detail is just great, and I felt like every story had something hidden to discover. In the case of "Skin Art" Atila gives up and sleeps with Elodie (kinda creepy, but no detail to wig me out further), and Elodie finds herself underwhelmed by the experience. The tats disappear almost overnight, and she forgets Atila quickly. It strikes me as a particularly nice metaphor as teens so often think their adolescent loves and obsessions are permanent (like a tattoo), when in actuality, once the initial rush is over they tend to fade quickly.
Blood Roses is full of striking metaphors and details. It's all woven together so nicely, and every story had something distinctly beautiful and affecting about it. I will definitely seek out more of Block's work, and if you're in the mood for a quick read, this is a great one.
ATTENTION: THOSE WHO LOVE BOOK GIVEAWAYS!
If you're interested, how about joining my GIVEAWAY! In addition to the nice ARC of Blood Roses I received, I also have a pristine hardcover copy that can be yours. Leave me a comment expressing your interest in the book, and I'll draw a winner on July 25th!