Even before I read The Waters and the Wild I have been fascinated by Francesca Lia Block. Every summary I had ever read from one of her books sounded like something I wanted to read. Though many of her books graced my wishlist, it took me a long time before I read one.
Francesca Lia Block has a simplistic style reminiscent of poetry. Sometimes, for me, the writing is a little too straight forward, a little too sparse. But there is something about her prose that connects with one’s understanding of magic that keeps me going back. Block writes something beyond urban fantasy; she calls it urban fairy tales and the genius of it is the way a reader can connect with moments of their own past through her writing. And thanks to Goodreads Swap I will soon be the proud owner of many new books by Block. The first one to show up was Girl Goddess #9, a collection of short stories published in 1996.
Today I sat down and read through the first story “Tweetie Sweet Pea” and I enjoyed it. First line: In the morning, her mother helped her put on the bathing suit with the cartoon bird baby on it. This story tells of a summer day in the life of Tweetie. A very young girl with “tufts of white hair, big blue saucer eyes, a little round tummy and skinny arms and legs.” She is at the age when she can absorb so much about the world around her, yet has little to say to add to it. Throughout the whole story Tweetie never says more than three words in a row.
I love the feeling of observation that this narration style created. I may have one complaint, the voice and word choice didn’t seem to fit with that from which the third person perspective is being viewed. I know it is not Tweetie’s voice we hear in the story but it is still informed by her voice, thoughts, and vision. There are a lot of places where Tweetie’s magical innocence is perfectly connected with the language used, but the moments when it doesn’t fit tend to stick out for me.
The short story is the highest form of literature in my eyes. When writing a short story you need to be the most economical with your words with out being ambiguous. I have also been known to be highly critical, and with this in mind, I find that some of the young adult short stories I read don’t live up to the quality I would like to see from these authors. I know they can write and I want to see more craft in the young adult short stories I am reading, and less thrown together stories that work and flow, but are missing that creative splash and tight style that has brought me to my love of short stories.
“Tweetie Sweet Pea” shows the combating forces we can feel in childhood, when we believe in magic but are told it doesn’t exist. When people tell us fairy tales but make sure we don’t believe in them. And the same in opposition, that even if we are young we understand the negativities of life. In the story Tweetie sees the world, understands it, but cannot express herself within it.
“Tweetie didn’t want to get out of the bucket where she fit so perfectly. Her father had to pick her up, kicking and wiggling, and deliver her into a chair that was too big. She missed her bucket. She might not fit in it so well in a few days.”