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Violet & Claireby Francesca Lia Block
Synopses & Reviews
The helicopter circles whirring in a sky the color of laundered-to-the-perfect-fade jeans. Clouds like the wigs of starlets-fluffy platinum spun floss. Below, the hills are covered with houses from every place and time-English Tudor manors, Swiss chalets, Spanish villas, California Craftsman. Flowers threaten to grow over their doors and windows like what happened to Sleeping Beauty's castle. Pools flash like jewels in backyards where Sleeping Beauties in sunglasses float topless, waking to sip from goblets of exotica decorated with pineapples, cherries and hibiscus blossoms. On the roads that run between the hills are shiny cars, hard-candy-colored and filled with music.
"This is how my movie begins. The credits floating in the pools, written on the license plates, on billboards, lighting up in neon over the bars. I am in the helicopter dressed in Gautier black and shades, pointing out the shots to the cameraman.
This is how my movie begins but not my life. My life started seventeen years ago in a hospital in West L.A. There were no cameras at the event, no sign above the hospital announcing the opening of THE LIFE OF VIOLET SAMMS. Maybe there should have been. Who knows, if I got famous, I told myself, it could be very valuable to have all that on film.
Now you might assume that I wanted to be an actress. But that wasn't it at all. That would have limited me. I could never have dreamed of just playing one part, saying somebody else's words, doing what they told me to do like a lovely puppet. No-I wanted to be the one to give the words, and actions, too. I started by directing my dolls, but they did not cooperate. They had none of the vivid but ephemeral essence that emanates from a real star. I could dress them certain ways and twist their bodies around into the right positions, but I was frustrated by the lack of life in their eyes. That was when I began fantasizing about real actors. The boys and girls in the neighborhood never lived up to my expectations. They got bored fast and went off to play games that I never understood. Also, they had an aversion to some of the more strenuous poses that my dolls, with all their lack of emoting ability, always complied with.
Speaking of emoting-the neighborhood children weren't much better than my dolls with that. And then, most humiliating of all, they rejected me! They plotted ways to avoid me after school. I grew up alone but in the best company. Dating Cary Grant and Bogey at the revival house, hanging with Jarmusch at the art house, spending the night with Garbo and Veronica Lake on my VCR. Wondering why I couldn't find my own little Marilyn and Jimmy Dean to work with. I knew I was worthy of their talents, even then.
And one day, finally, I saw her.
"EXT. HIGH SCHOOL QUAD: DAY"
She was wearing a Tinker BellT-shirt and her hair was up on her head in a goofy blond ponytail. You could tell she had no idea she was pretty. But I knew that on film she would glow with that weird light that certain people have. I've got an eye for those things.
There was no one at school that even had a clue what I was up to. They thought I was from another planet, and maybe I am. At least they usually left me alone. The girls admired my clothes and my hair and the boys checked out my body, but none of them wanted to talk to me. They thought I was some heavily attitude-endowed bitch whose only friend was her PowerBook.
Well, it was true. I didn't have many friends. Make that any. And that would have been all right as long as I could have been making movies. But for movies you need to collaborate. It is one of the laws of film, even if you are a dictator. And so, even if I didn't need any friends, I needed an actress. And there she was, sitting under the big magnolia tree with its fat white flowers, her hair up on her head in a ponytail and her scruffy Tinker Bell T-shirt and her toes poking through the holes in her Vans. It took an expert eye to recognize it in her but I recognized it-she was my star, my Miss Monroe junior, my teen queen extraordinaire, my young diva, my sweet celluloid goddess waiting to be captured on the luminous screen.
"You must have the longest diary of any girl at this school. Is it about all your hot dates?"
"Oh, excuse me. Zine."
He was trying desperately to find some hepcat credentials to whip out. It made me nauseous.
"No, it's not a zine," I said patiently. "It's a screenplay."
"Awesome!" he exclaimed. "Can I read it?"I bet you can guess my answer, even in the short time we've been acquainted.
Unfortunately, he was not so astute. He seemed surprised and said, "If you don't ever do anything except write you'll need Prozac."
This was especially not funny since in junior high I had gained notoriety from a serious bout with depression that caused me to cut my arms with razor blades.
I asked him point-blank what it was that he wanted.
This is the story of two girls, racing through space like shadow and light. A photo negative, together they make the perfect image of a girl. Violet is the dark one, dressed in forever black, dreaming Technicolor dreams of spinning the world into her very own silver screen creation. Claire is like a real-life Tinker Bell, radiating love and light, dressing herself in wings of gauze and glitter, writing poems to keep away the darkness. The setting is L.A., a city as beautiful as it is dangerous, and within this landscape of beauty and pain Violet and Claire vow to make their own movie. Together they will show the world the way they want it to be, and maybe then the world will become that place --a place where people no longer hate or fight or want to hurt. But when desire and ambition threaten to rip a seamless friendship apart, only one thing can make two halves whole again--the power of love.
Francesca Lia Block's latest novel is a beautifully told story that boldly combines the world of film with the lyrical graceful language of poetry. The voices of two friends — one dark, one light — combine to tell a larger tale of love and loss, and the strength that comes from believing in dreams.
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About the Author
Francesca Lia Block is the acclaimed author of the Los Angeles Times best-sellers The Rose And The Beast, Violet &Claire, and Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books, as well as I Was A Teenage Fairy, Girl Goddess #9, and The Hanged Man. Her work has been translated into seven different languages and is published around the world. She made her dazzling entrance onto the literary scene with her debut novel, Weetzie Bat, in 1989.
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