I locked myself in the house today with every intention of grading a mountain of papers that keep stacking up around my neck higher and higher and higher! Too dramatic? Nah, not really.
Like any good procrastinator I shopped for shoes, had lunch, cleaned a bit, and finished a book before I started grading. The shoes are adorable, the food was great, the bedroom is liveable again, and the book was delicious. Oh, and the first round of papers is done. Overall, it's a pretty successful day so far!
Pretty Dead, by Francesca Lia Block is my second book for the RIP IV Challenge, and it just reminded me how much I love Block's writing. The last book of hers I read was for last year's Read-a-Thon, and it was Psyche in a Dress, which I also adored.
Pretty Dead is the story of Charlotte Emerson, a 99-year-old vampire in a 17-year-old's body. While I've been burned out on teen vampire fiction for a while now, I decided to give this one a go because Block has a way of making the run-of-the-mill quite extraordinary. This book was no exception. Charlotte is a terribly sympathetic character. She was turned to a vampire under tragic circumstances, and after the apparent suicide of her best (human) friend, she's feeling more lost and lonely than ever. She wishes for nothing more than to be a human, and under extraordinary circumstances, she just may have that chance. She hates the idea of living for eternity. In a way, she reminded me quite a bit of Louis from Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire.
As usual, Block's writing is provocative, surreal, and has a weird, ethereal beauty to it. Charlotte could easily be a snotty, withdrawn character, but as it is, she's a tragic heroine and likable for all she's experienced. It's hard to explain what it is that makes Block's writing "surreal" and "ethereal," so let me dig for a passage that might do the work for me. Here we go. Here Charlotte is writing in reference to her friend who killed herself:
Emily, none of this is worth it. Not this endangered blond hair, not this house full of shining things, the velvets and pearls and shiny red-soled shoes of fortune, not even this beautiful curse of immortality. What you had, even with the pain--that was life. What I have, especially now, without you, without the other one I loved and lost, is just living. Dead.
Her words just float along somehow; her phrasing has sort of a lilting quality about it. I love the details she provides of clothing, objects, people. It's all just very--dare I say it--luscious!
If you haven't read Block before, I wouldn't mind recommending this one as a place to start, or if you're burned out on teen vampires, give this one a go anyway. It was a great RIP choice, and it's going in my keeper pile.