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Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books (Weetzie Bat Books)

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ISBN13: 9780064406970
ISBN10: 0064406970
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Chapter One
Weetzie and Dirk

The reason Weetzie Bat hated high school was because no one understood. They didn't even realize where they were living. They didn't care that Marilyn's prints were practically in their backyard at Graumann's; that you could buy tomahawks and plastic palm tree wallets at Farmer's Market, and the wildest, cheapest cheese and bean and hot dog and pastrami burritos at Oki Dogs; that the waitresses wore skates at the Jetson-style Tiny Naylor's; that there was a fountain that turned tropical soda-pop colors, and a canyon where Jim Morrison and Houdini used to live, and all-night potato knishes at Canter's, and not too far away was Venice, with columns, and canals, even, like the real Venice but maybe cooler because of the surfers. There was no one who cared. Until Dirk.

Dirk was the best-looking guy at school. He wore his hair in a shoe-polish-black Mohawk and he drove a red '55 Pontiac. All the girls were infatuated with Dirk; he wouldn't pay any attention to them. But on the first day of the semester, Dirk saw Weetzie in his art class. She was a skinny girl with a bleach-blonde flat-top. Under the pink Harlequin sunglasses, strawberry lipstick, earrings dangling charms, and sugar-frosted eye shadow she was really almost beautiful. Sometimes she wore Levi's with white-suede fringe sewn down the legs and a feathered Indian headdress, sometimes old fifties' taffeta dresses covered with poetry written in glitter, or dresses made of kids' sheets printed with pink piglets or Disney characters.

"That's a great outfit," Dirk said. Weetzie was wearing her feathered headdress and her moccasins and a pink fringed minidress.

"Thanks. I made it," she said, snapping her strawberry bubble gum. "I'm into Indians," she said. "They were here first and we treated them like shit."

"Yeah," Dirk said, touching his Mohawk. He smiled. "You want to go to a movie tonight? There's a Jayne Mansfield film festival. The Girl Can't Help It."

"Oh, I love that movie!" Weetzie said in her scratchiest voice.

Weetzie and Dirk saw The Girl Can't Help It, and Weetzie practiced walking like Jayne Mansfield and making siren noises all the way to the car.

"This really is the most slinkster-cool car I have ever seen!" she said.

"His name's Jerry," Dirk said, beaming. "Because he reminds me of Jerry Lewis. I think Jerry likes you. Let's go out in him again."

Weetzie and Dirk went to shows at the Starwood, the Whiskey, the Vex, and Cathay de Grande. They drank beers or bright-colored canned Club drinks in Jerry and told each other how cool they were. Then they went into the clubs dressed to kill in sunglasses and leather, jewels and skeletons, rosaries and fur and silver. They held on like waltzers and plunged in slamming around the pit below the stage. Weetzie spat on any skinhead who was too rough, but she always got away with it by batting her eyelashes and blowing a bubble with her gum. Sometimes Dirk dove offstage into the crowd. Weetzie hated that, but of course everyone always caught him because, with his black leather and Mohawk and armloads of chain and his dark-smudged eyes, Dirk was the coolest. After the shows, sweaty and shaky, they went to Oki Dogs for a burrito.

In the daytime, they went to matinees on Hollywood Boulevard, had strawberry sundaes with marshmallow topping at Schwab's, or went to the beach. Dirk taught Weetzie to surf. It was her lifelong dream to surf along with playing the drums in front of a stadium of adoring fans while wearing gorgeous pajamas. Dirk and Weetzie got tan and ate cheese-and-avocado sandwiches on whole-wheat bread and slept on the beach. Sometimes they skated on the boardwalk. Slinkster Dog went with them wherever they went.

When they were tired or needed comforting, Dirk and Weetzie and Slinkster Dog went to Dirk's Grandma Fifi's cottage, where Dirk had lived since his parents died. Grandma Fifi was a sweet, powdery old lady who baked tiny, white, sugar-coated pastries for them, played them tunes on a music box with a little dancing monkey on top, had two canaries she sang to, and had hair Weetzie envied-perfect white hair that sometimes had lovely blue or pink tints. Grandma Fifi had Dirk and Weetzie bring her groceries, show her their new clothes, and answer the same questions over and over again. They felt very safe and close in Fifi's cottage.

"You're my best friend in the whole world," Dirk said to Weetzie one night. They were sitting in Jerry drinking Club coladas with Slinkster Dog curled up between them.

"You're my best friend in the whole world," Weetzie said to Dirk.

Slinkster Dog's stomach gurgled with pleasure. He was very happy, because Weetzie was so happy now and her new friend Dirk let him ride in Jerry as long as he didn't pee, and they gave him pizza pie for dinner instead of that weird meat that Weetzie's mom, Brandy-Lynn, tried to dish out when he was left at home.

One night, Weetzie and Dirk and Slinkster Dog were driving down Sunset in Jerry on their way to the Odyssey. Weetzie was leaning out the window holding Rubber Chicken by his long, red toe. The breeze was filling Rubber Chicken so that he blew up like a fat, pocked balloon.

At the stoplight, a long, black limo pulled up next to Jerry. The driver leaned out and looked at Rubber Chicken.

"That is one bald-looking chicken!"

The driver threw something into the car and it landed on Weetzie's lap. She screamed.

"What is it?" Dirk exclaimed.

A hairy, black thing was perched on Weetzie's knees.

"It's a hairpiece for that bald eagle you've got there. Belonged to Burt Reynolds," the driver said, and he drove off.

Weetzie put the toupee on Rubber Chicken. Really, it looked quite nice. It made Rubber Chicken look just like the lead singer of a heavy-metal band. Dirk and Weetzie wondered how they could have let him go bald for so long.

Copyright © 2003 by Francesca Block

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kismet, September 22, 2008 (view all comments by kismet)
A beautifully lyrical series of stories which follows a cool chosen family as they find their way in a world that is sometimes unkind. Block's writing is amazingly tactile, perhaps due to her background in poetry. This is one of those books that I will reread again and again.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780064406970
Author:
Block, Francesca Lia
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Author:
by Francesca Lia Block
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Family - General
Subject:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Subject:
Social Situations - Adolescence
Subject:
Los angeles (calif.)
Subject:
Los Angeles (Calif.) Fiction.
Subject:
Social Issues - Adolescence
Subject:
Fantasy & Magic
Subject:
Friendship
Subject:
Fairy Tales & Folklore - Single Title
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Paperback
Series:
Weetzie Bat Books
Publication Date:
May 1998
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
7.98x5.24x1.33 in. 1.13 lbs.
Age Level:
12-17

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Featured Titles » Banned Books » Young Adult
Young Adult » General

Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books (Weetzie Bat Books) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 496 pages HarperTrophy - English 9780064406970 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Ms. Block's far-ranging free association has been controlled and shaped...with sensual characters. The language is inventive Californian hip, but the patterns are compactly folkloristic and the theme is transcendent."
"Review" by , "Magic is everywhere in Block's lyrical and resonant fables....At once modern and mythic, her series deserves as much space as it can command of daydream nation's shrinking bookshelves."
"Review" by , "Block's extravagantly imaginative setting and finely honed perspectives remind the reader that there is magic everywhere."
"Review" by , "A poetic series of books celebrating love, art, and the imagination, all in hyper-lyrical language....Tenderly intoxicating."
"Review" by , "Block is a cutting-edge young adult author....She writes gay-lesbians as characters rather than poster children. Books such as these can help bridge the feelings of isolation that some young adults may be experiencing."
"Review" by , "Transcendent."
"Synopsis" by , About The Book:

Dangerous Angels brings together in one volume all five of Francesca Lia Block's celebrated novels about Weetzie Bat and her nontraditional L.A. family of musicians and filmmakers. Populated by fascinating characters, filled with the magic, and occasional misery of the creative life and enriched by themes of the redemptive power of love, respect for the natural world, and the universal search for self-identity, the Weetzie Bat books are modern classics in the making.

The publication of Weetzie Bat in 1989 heralded the arrival of one of the most powerfully original voices in contemporary literature. Francesca Lia Block's marriage of gritty realism and magic in the pages of her postmodern, punk fairy tale was brilliantly innovative. At the same time, her celebration of love in all of its varieties — both heterosexual and homosexual — and the expression it finds in nontraditional or blended families invited controversy among critics but attracted the passionate devotion of readers everywhere. In the books that followed, Witch Baby (1991), Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys (1992), Missing Angel Juan (1993), and Baby Be-Bop (1995) Block enriched readers' understanding of her characters, of the intertwining of love and magic, and of the conflict between light and darkness in contemporary life. Block's wonderfully lyrical writing style matches the authentic sweetness and fundamental innocence of her sensibility and that of her characters. Because of the vividness she brings to her California settings, Los Angeles is as lively a character as Weetzie Bat herself. Block is sometimes described as a regional writer. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, her characters' search for love, self expression, and personal identity is equally indigenous to the concrete canyons of New York and the wheat fields of the Great Plains, as it is to Hollywood or Weetzie's flower bedecked home in Laurel Canyon.

Questions For Discussion: The title of this book comes from a quote from Weetzie Bat: “ ‘ Love is a dangerous angel, ’ Dirk said.” p. 11 What does Dirk mean by this? How would you apply this quote to the four other Weetzie Bat books?
According to "The New York Times, “ Ms. Block writes about the real Los Angeles better than anyone since Raymond Chandler.” Discuss some of the ways in which the author brings such vivid life to her setting.
"Missing Angel Juan takes place in New York. Does this change of setting make the novel significantly different from the other Weetzie Bat books? This is also the only Weetzie Bat novel to be told in a first person voice, that of Witch Baby. In what ways does this change the experience of reading the book?
In such phrases as “ lanky lizards, ” “ duck hunt, ” and “ slinkster cool” Block invents a “ slanguage” for her characters. Can you find other examples? How do these compare with slang that you use in talking with your friends?
Francesca Lia Block is also a poet. How has this influenced her style as a fiction writer?
The author says that Witch Baby is the character with whom she most closely identifies. How would you describe Witch Baby as a person? How does she change over the course of the two books about her ("Witch Baby and "Missing Angel Juan)?
Witch Baby “ outs” Duck to his mother p.110 . Why do you think she does this? Is it wrong for her to do this?
Block’ s characters love not only one another but the natural world as well. How do they demonstrate this? How does the character of Coyote Dream Song embody this? How and why do the four magical animal “ gifts” in Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys change the band members?
At the end of "Baby Be-Bop, Dirk thinks, “ Our stories can set us free. When we set them free.” p. 478 Discuss what he means by this.
Magic is a regular part of all of the Weetzie Bat books. Genies, magic lamps, ghosts, tree spirits, and more are part of the characters’ daily lives. Why do you think Block adds these magical elements to her stories? Are they enriched by this intermingling of the magical and the realistic? And what do you think Block meant when she told an interviewer, “ Magic and love. That’ s the equation, finally. Out of love there emerges transformation and transcendence.” Finally, how does she demonstrate this in her use of myth and fairy tales in her novels? (E.g., the Orpheus myth in Missing Angel Juan.)

About The Author:

Francesca Lia Block, nurtured by a painter/filmmaker father and a poet mother, wrote most of her first novel, "Weetzie Bat, while she was studying at the University of California– Berkley. Since then, Block has written four Weetzie sequels— "Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, and "Baby Be Bop. Like Weetzie, all have received high praise and prestigious awards. Ms. Block is also the author of "The Hanged Man, Girl Goddess #9, and "I Was a TeenageFairy. Francesca Lia Block lives in Los Angeles, California.

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