Thursday, May 01, 2008

rolling with my homies (or at least my home city)

In my former writing group, Pat would often complement writing she liked by saying, “The language is so great. I just want to roll around in it.” I didn’t totally get it—I’ve read lots of really strong prose that I didn’t necessarily want to lather up with.

But right now I’m all about rolling around in Francesca Lia Block’s Quakeland, which I picked up this weekend at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at the Manic D Press booth (this was easy to do, since the other half of the booth was occupied by my organization, and I spent a sweaty but fun 16 hours there).

I first read Block’s Weetzie Bat books when I was in junior high, and I fell in love with an L.A. I’d never visited. It was queer and punky and neon, which made it enticing and a little scary. I read the books again in college when I was just beginning to explore the city for real (and write a thesis about it). I liked taking pictures of homeless kids in leather jackets and the then-under-construction Red Line on Hollywood Boulevard, thinking, This is something Witch Baby Bat would do.

Quakeland is a grown-up book by a writer who is a good 20 years older than when she wrote Weetzie. And I’m 20 years older than when I first read Weetzie. So yeah, it feels different. Is she a little warier or am I? Is L.A. better charted, as frustratingly predictable, now, as it is magical? Or do I and the author just know its tricks better?

I love how reading is so not static. I love her strength of voice, something that alludes even some of my favorite novelists. It makes me want to build little altars and drape my furniture in sari fabric and shop at thrift stores and go goth at the age of 31.

Feeling like I want to experience the material world differently is a testament to the texture of her prose, and soaking up the city’s everyday beauty—so easy to ignore after you look at it long enough, like a post-it on the fridge—is a wonderful way of rolling around in it. I’m driving to the ArcLight to see Iron Man soon, and for the first time in years, I’m looking forward to the trek down Sunset.


Veronica said...

ugh. i'm sorry. again. we should go monday night. that's when i want to go. you and ak should come.

Cheryl said...

It's all good--really! Iron Man will be there. After all, he's made of iron.