Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dangerous Angels...random thoughts


 Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block.

Is it silly to say that I just want to hug this book and carry it with me always?  Well, in a sense, I will...for these books have settled down inside of me. I believe they may be the most life-affirming books I've ever read.

(Dangerous Angels is actually a collection of five short books: Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, and Baby Be-Bop. Each of them could easily be read as a stand-alone...but seriously, you don't want to do that. Because each book adds so much to the richness of the others.)

When I said above that these books are life-affirming, I hope I didn't sound misleading. I don't say that to mean that these books are simply full of sunlight and butterflies and unconditional love. They are full of these things, but they are also full of sadness and loneliness and confusion. There is joy and there is heartache. There is acceptance and intolerance. There is life...in all its glorious and painful realities.

This collection of stories centers around this group of people who have come together as a family. Some share the same DNA, most don't. What they all do share is love for one another. They have names like Weetzie and Witch Baby and My Secret Agent Lover Man and Duck...and as odd as it sounds, it never seems odd. Francesca Lia Block has this way of making the "strange" seem not just normal, but perfectly perfect.

The Rose & the Beast is the only other book I've read by Block. I loved it as well, but in many ways, it has a very different feel. That collection of retold fairy tales was a bit more haunting and gritty. But her magic with words is apparent in both. I know not everyone agrees, but I find her writing utterly enchanting. I hesitate to use the word quirky, because I sometimes, perhaps unfairly, view "quirky" as forced. As trying too hard to be different. But there is nothing of that feel to Block's writing. Her uniqueness feels so genuine, as if she is just pouring herself onto the pages. (I can imagine no one else on earth who could make me feel the urge to go around calling things "slinkster-cool.")

But back to the stories. I think she says it best herself in Baby Be-Bop:

Stories are like genies, Dirk thought. They can carry us into and through our sorrows. Sometimes they burn, sometimes they dance, sometimes they weep, sometimes they sing. Like genies, everyone has one. Like genies, sometimes we forget that we do.

Our stories can set us free, Dirk thought. When we set them free.
 Oh my, but what are the stories about. Everything. Coming of age, coming out, holding on too tight, and learning to let go, making mistakes, and learning from them, birth, and death, and listening to your own voice. You know, I have like fifty little slips of paper stuck in the pages of this book...so many beautiful passages and things I wanted to mention. But bottom line, I just can't think of any way to put all these swirling thoughts into a coherent form.

So I will just say "Dangerous Angels is a celebration of life" and leave it at that.

*****
Other thoughts:

Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot
Becky at Becky's Book Reviews
RaiderGirl3 at An Adventure in Reading (Weetzie Bat)
Valentina at Valentina's Room (Weetzie Bat)
Valentina at Valentina's Room (Witch Baby)
Valentina at Valentina's Room (Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys)

I'm sure I've missed some reviews. I apologize. But please feel free to leave a link in the comments, and I will be happy to add it. Thanks.

*****
I guess I'm out of hiding. Shouldn't be...that damn to-do list is nowhere near tamed yet. But I couldn't help it...how could I resist the premier of Ana's vlog?!!! I couldn't, and I'm glad I didn't! Ana, you are sooooo AWESOME!!!!

Anyway, I'll probably still be a bit scarce over this coming week, but I've been missing you all so much that it will be good to see what you're all up to.

Happy week before the read-a-thon to everyone!

16 comments:

Nymeth said...

(I can imagine no one else on earth who could make me feel the urge to go around calling things "slinkster-cool.")

Ha, SO TRUE! I'm so glad you loved these, Debi. No surprise there, but I'm still glad :D They ARE life-affirming, and heartbreakingly sad at the same time, and just so beautiful <3

And thank you for the kind words re: teh vlog. You know I love you, but I have to say that the stress of this whole thing took at least one year off my life ;) Now I shall sit here, unable to concentrate on my book, and wonder how many people will watch it and, to quote Renay, banish me from their hearts forever :P

Debi said...

Ana,
I can tell you exactly how many people...ZERO. Seriously, I get what you mean. Because the thought that I posted my pathetic little vlog still has me feeling a bit queasy. I think you and I are just not cut out for the spotlight psychologically. But Ana, you honestly did such an awesome, awesome job! Making me feel even more pathetic than I already did. But then, I have no one but myself to blame, do I? ;)

As for Dangerous Angels, they are heartbreakingly sad. So many tears in my eyes. And so many times when I just had a warm smile on my face as well. I think it is that combination that so captured my heart. Because isn't that the way life really is... Ah, I just love these books.

Amanda said...

Okay. Here's the thing. I really wanted to read Baby Be-Bop for Banned Books Week. The whole controversy surrounding it up in the West Bend, WI, area is something I've been following very closely. But then I found out it was part of this series, and honestly, the series doesn't sound like my kind of thing. So I shied away from it during Banned Books Week. I wish it sounded interesting, but it doesn't. And everyone keeps saying how good it is, so maybe it would be even though it's not normally something I'd read, but I'm scared to start on a book that I'd never heard of before in an attempt to get to Baby Be-bop, and be burnt out before i ever got there. Does that make sense?

Eva said...

You're back! Yay!

And both of y'all:
You did EXCELLENT vlogs
Everyone was super-excited to see you vlog
There is no way either of your vlogs would make someone *less* interested in you!

Snap out of it kids! lol I'm going to whack you upside the head of the self esteem stick soon. ;)

(And you know I love you both to bits!)

Debi said...

Amanda,
You know what, I wouldn't exactly call this a "series" so much as a bunch of companion books. If that makes sense. In other words, you could easily read Baby Be-Bop without having read the others. In fact, chronologically, Baby Be-Bop actually happens first. Though I sort of hate picking favorites because each book is a little treasure, I think Baby Be-Bop and Missing Angel Juan would definitely be the two I loved the very most. And since Baby Be-Bop is so short, you won't have wasted much time even if you don't end up loving it. Just a thought. (And though I know you already have your read-a-thon pile put together, this really would make a good addition. :D) Sorry, I'm not trying to sound like a little pusher here, but I fear I am.

Eva,
Well, thank you my dear. And point well taken. I'll try to shape up. (If for no other reason than to avoid the self-esteem stick whacking. :D)

Louise said...

Now that I should be able to see things like vlogs and widgets properly again, I am off to check them out! Also, this collection of short stories sound enchanting.

Trish said...

A celebration of life? I could use a little of that right now!

And no, I don't think it's silly to go around hugging books and wanting to carry them with you everywhere. My mom laughs at me because everytime I give her a book to borrow I snuggle with it for a few moments before passing it over. :) (the last two being Maus and The Book Thief--you'd hug those too, right?)

Staci said...

I once kissed a book so I totally understand about wanting to hug it!! I've thought about reading Block but wasn't sure if they were for me or not. Now after reading your thoughts I will have to at least give them a shot. I will be catching up on those vlogs tomorrow at work where I have high speed!! Can't wait!

Chris said...

Seriously Debi?! Are you and Ana trying to tag team me on this one?? I'm now in the middle of like 4 books with the readathon coming up this weekend!! And now I want to start this one too :( Oh god it sounds so good!!! And I gots it in the mail this week!!

And I'm in love with Nymeth's vlog :D Just as much as I'm in love with yours!! Now we need to all actually get TOGETHER and meet ;)

Oh, and Renay needs an ass kicking...she's talking bad about herself on Twitter and I told her I'd send you her way to set her straight...just sayin' >>

Kailana said...

I need to read this book! That's about all there is to it. :)

Debi said...

Louise,
Enchanting is a pretty good word for these books. Certainly sad. But so very beautiful, nonetheless.

Trish,
The picture of you snuggling your books before lending them out just put the most enormous smile on my face!!! :D

Staci,
Okay, I just have to know...what book was downright kiss-worthy?
Uh, and the vlog thing...please feel free to skip mine. Please.

Chris,
What the hell are we going to do with that Renay?!! NO ONE talks bad about my friends and gets away with it!!! And that includes themselves!
And Chris, just dive into Dangerous Angels. Seriously, you will not regret it!!! While I don't think it's a book everyone would love, I definitely think that you're going to!

Kailana,
For some reason, I was thinking that you didn't like her writing? Am I right, or am I thinking of the wrong person? Anyway, I so hope you enjoy it, Kelly!!!

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jupitersinclair said...

Oh,yay! I read this for the first time this summer and had so many bizarre emotions over it. Mainly, why couldn't I have read these stories when I was a teenager? So much for me to identify with and yes...just life-affirming.

MonieG said...

Sounds like an awesome book. Thanks for the review!!

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