Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Francesca Lia Block's Nymph


The book starts off with a quotation from Ovid's Metamorphosis. No, Francesca, putting in an Ovid quotation doesn't make this book anything less than glorified fanfiction. It's a series of erotic stories that are sort of joined together. And the main point is sex. And while I have enjoyed FLB in the past, these erotic stories are quite painful to read. I recapped about five of them for your pleasure (or pain).

On a housekeeping note, I know most of you said you wanted Gossip Girl and Nanny Diaries, but I haven't gotten around to recapping either of those--hopefully, I'll have one up by the end of the week. And if you're hungry for TV, I recapped a Dr. Vink episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? on my other blog. Well, here's Nymph!


An ex surfer named Tom who broke up with his girlfriend, Tawny, hangs out on the beach all day thinking of the good old days surfing with his old lady. (Man, Bruce Springsteen and the Beach Boys really need to collaborate on a song one of these days. I'd call it Working Class Kahuna Blues.) On the beach one day he sees a girl in a wheelchair with silvery fabric covering her legs. She's your typical FLB/anime creation--huge boobs, tiny waist, super thin. Her name is Mer, and she claims that she's already met Tom (he's had dreams about being rescued by a mermaid when he was younger). Since Mer always wears that sheath around her legs, they can't have regular sex, so the whole story reads like a testimony to oral sex and breast fondling. (I get the feeling that FLB got bored and let her horny stepbrother whose girlfriend won't do oral and has weird hang-ups about her breasts, ghost-write the story.)

People speculate about how Mer and Tom have sex, like maybe Mer was molested and that's why she does the sheath thing. Some people think she's an actual factual mermaid. And me, I'm just wondering why there was no, "Why couldn't she be the other kind of mermaid with the fish part on the top and the lady part on the bottom?!" reaction from Tom.

Cringe worthy sex talk: "His cock feels huge, full of ocean."


This story basically sums up everything I loved and hated about Francesca Lia Block's writing. Sylvie and Plum are best friends, "...who met at a poetry workshop in Venice and fell in love with each other's imagery--blood, lace, booze, angels, emaciated coughing boys...Also they were both shy, their hair was bleached blond then, choppy with dark roots; they only wore black thrift shop dresses or torn Levi's and vintage rhinestone jewelry." And, let me fill in the rest: they both think they were the only ones who really knew what the Velvet Underground with Nico album was about, after the bleached hair thing they decided to dye their hair black with Bettie Page bangs, and every weekend they go shopping for a new pair of Converse sneakers.

Anyway, Sylvie spends most of her time going home with skinheads who, after screwing her, reveal that they have swastika tattoos (actually, this happened in Weetzie Bat, too, and it makes me wonder if FLB had a Nazi fetish). Sylvie then gets mopey because she hasn't found a Nice Guy yet. Plum tells her she has a secret that could help Sylvie. No, Plum, I want to see Sylvie try to find love at a Klan rally and complain some more about the dearth of classy guys. Okay, okay. Plum's secret? Every time she sleeps with someone (male or female), they find the gal/guy of their dreams.

Sylvie agrees to sleep with Plum. I really wish that FLB did twist endings, and that it turned out that Plum was lying and she had a hidden camera in one of her Deepak Chopra samplers that recorded the whole torrid sex scene for posterity (and lonely horny guys watching ads for Hipsters Gone Wild in between episodes of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Big Bang Theory). But Plum was telling the truth and Sylvie meets a guy called Ben at a poetry reading the next day. Ben tells her he loves her emaciated coughing boy/blood/lace/booze/angel poetry. Our Ben is an awesome liar when it comes to getting into Sylvie's lacy white fairy wing festooned thong. Either that or he really likes her poetry because he's got a hard on for tuberculosis victims.

Cringe worthy sex scene: "She can feel the warm night air on her clit and her womb is heavy inside of her." Mm, uterine talk.


This one's about a guy called Elvis Dean who broke up with his girlfriend a few months ago and is heartbroken. (Okay, FLB, we get it, you lust after old 50s and 60s icons. Just please don't name Elvis's girlfriend Marilyn Mansfield and we'll be cool.) Elvis's guy friends try to bring him to a strip club to show him a good time and get him laid.

All the girls at this club are kind of weird and twisted looking--like there's one girl with wings and another with lots of limbs. It's kind of like if Tod Browning designed a strip club. Then Elvis sees his ex-girlfriend, Cocoa, and she's some kind of cat-girl. Her body's still a hot human but her face looks all cat-like. She tells him that this place is evil and begs him to take her away, which he does. Apparently, Cocoa ended up here because she always wanted to be a dancer and no one (Elvis included) ever took her seriously. (Honey, the only way you could be taken seriously is if you were a gorilla who mastered sign language, and even then there are going to be people making banana jokes.)

Cocoa met a guy called Wonder who promised to make her a star in exchange for her getting surgery. The surgery made Cocoa look like a cat girl. And no, not an Eartha Kitt/Julie Newmarr type. No, not even Michelle Pfieffer level. I'm talking actual cat features. Then she was trapped in the strip club to dance with all the other freak girls for all eternity and could only leave if she was really in love with someone who could help her escape (or once gravity took its toll and her tits started being less feline and more udder-like). I do have to point out that if your name is Cocoa, you can't be surprised when you wind up in a strip club (or in Paris Hilton's Kate Spade clutch). And if a guy named Wonder makes a deal with you, you better be damned sure he's black, can't see, and can sing a few bars of Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

So Cocoa begged Elvis's friend Tony to come to the strip club to take her away. Elvis tells her she was already the most beautiful woman and she sadly says that now she's a freak. He tells her, "'You're still a goddess.'"

Cocoa: "Mew?"


On a happier note, after this book came out, teen girls everywhere flooded Hot Topic trying to buy as many kitty ears and tails as they could, and Furry conventions enjoyed an all-time high in membership.

Cringe-worthy prose: "He thinks of that old wives' tale about how cats can strangle babies, take their breath away. How she will take all of his breath. How he will let her."


I smell a cross-over! Plum meets Elvis Dean. She knows that whenever she sleeps with anyone they wind up with another person but she's cool with that. She dates Elvis Dean and they're going really slow. Then one day she decides she wants to have sex with him so she drives to his apartment and finds him staring at videos of him and Cocoa doing it.

Plum tells Elvis he's been a very bad boy and proceeds to spank and finger him. After, she explains about her secret (everyone she fucks finds their real love). He says he's already found the girl he's looking for and she says she saw (meaning Cocoa). He explains that that was a long time ago, that Cocoa died. Plum says, "'I'm sorry...I wish I was her for you.'" Elvis Dean replies, "'Sweetie! No. You're you. That's all I want.'" The cynic that lives inside me and feeds on snark and ginger snaps says that Elvis Dean will soon start to channel the Jimmy Stewart character in Vertigo and start trying to dress Plum in kitty outfits, but I think I lack the requisite wide eyed wonder to really "get" FLB's books. (That's what she said when she turned me down to be her assistant back in college. Also my wardrobe is sadly lacking in gauzy fairy wings, and I made the mistake of saying I thought Springsteen was more talented than Bowie.)

Cringe worthy sex scene: "Elvis Dean stands up and Plum pulls him down over her lap. She pulls his pajama bottoms half way down so his big powerful curved ass is up in the air." Did you borrow that ass from J-Lo?


This story is about a girl named Carmelita and her boyfriend Tony. (The same Tony who brought Elvis Dean to see Cocoa.) Tony adores Carmelita but she's got a lot of insecurities that stem from being the middle child with gorgeous older and younger sisters. Carmelita's beautiful, too, but she doesn't think so, and she's always looking at other hot women and thinking how Tony must prefer them. Then she fantasizes about them and masturbates herself to sleep. (She's not a lesbian, though...supposedly.)

One of her fantasies involves Tony as a contestant on the dating game with three beautiful women each showing off their best feature to them (one woman shows off her huge breasts, another her huge booty, and another her long, shapely legs). Somehow, I think this was FLB's concession to the fact that women with junk in the trunk can be hot. (I do get the feeling that due to the fact that almost every FLB heroine is an emaciated hot girl that Anorexics of America complained.)

In the end, Carmelita decides to embrace her insecurities and incorporate it in fantasies with her beau by describing hot women to him while they make love. Let's count down the number of hours it takes before Tony talks Carmelita into a threesome and she agrees and then afterward they have one lies awake feeling hollow and empty inside, shall we?

In conclusion, this wasn't the worst erotic fiction I've ever read. If you'd like to read about that, wait a few weeks. It'll be up soon.