Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold

This is yet another Francesca Lia Block story collection. After Girl Goddess #9, it was my favorite, and I'm ashamed to admit that Charm was my favorite story. One of the back cover reviews describes this collection as "lush beautiful words [that] turn modern-day Los Angeles into a fantastical world." I call it Franny's Fractured Fairy Tales.


Looks like Francesca "Don't call me Franny!" Lia Block churned out a short story with yet another "Oh, life would be so much easier if only I were ordinary looking!" protagonist. This story is a convoluted Sleeping Beauty re-imagining, where the title character is Rev, a gorgeous drug addled woman who sleeps with men in exchange for heroin. (Get it? She pricks herself and falls asleep?)

Rev goes to a party with some creep called Pop who shoots her up with the good stuff at the house of same actress named Charm. Then while she cruises on the heroin, a bunch of guys take pictures of her and I assume try to violate her seven ways from Sunday. Charm shows up and kicks out the guys, then invites Rev to stay while she recovers from the addiction. Only in FLB world can letting a drug addict end without Charm's TV, stereo, CD player, and basic faith in humanity disappearing into the night.

Charm helps Rev kick the habit and then it turns out that they were both adopted as kids and were part of the same family who apparently pimped them out and had pornographic photos taken of them. But now that they've discovered each other, they can become lovers, and all is well.

Quotable quotes

Was the curse that she was born too beautiful? Had it caused her real parents to abandon her, fearful of the length of lash, the plush of lip in such a young face? FLB, goddamnit, stop cribbing from your notes from back when you wrote copy at Maybelline. Was it the reason the men with cameras had sucked away her soul in little sips because any form that lovely must remain soulless...? Francesca, I swear to god. And no, you don't get bonus points for alliteration.

Was it what made Old-Woman-Heroin's face split into a jealous leer as she beckoned Rev up to the attic and stabbed her with the needle that first time? Oh, FLB, you took this tired old Sleeping Beauty metaphor way too far. Is Old-Woman-Heroin an old washed up heroin chic model, who at the old crone age of 35 cursed Rev out of jealousy at not being invited to baby Rev's christening in a toilet bowl in a bathroom at that bar off Avenue A?
(Mirror Mirror on the Wall/Who's the most emaciated of them all?)

Credit where credit's due

I have to give Rev some credit. Her breasts are described as "heavy" and "satiny." It takes some serious talent to shoot up heroin and still retain a figure that Kate Winslet, Beyonce, and Crystal Renn would envy. (Maybe she was also mainlining KFC.) I'm surprised FLB didn't depict Rev as her usual skinny, heavily eyelinered, vaguely feral looking girl. I was assuming less a blissed out Christina Hendricks with a syringe in her arm, and more Rachael Leigh Cook in a white tank top and scowl.

I'd provide a photograph of what Rev actually looked like, but the closest thing I got when googling for voluptuous heroin addicts was Lenny Bruce's bloated autopsy pictures.


This one's about a girl whose stepfather is raping her so to grandmother's house she goes to take refuge. Eventually, she makes it to Granny's where PedoWolf finds her. In a fit of rage, she takes Granny's shotgun off the wall and fires two warning shots...into his head. Granny takes the blame for it, and it's implied that all turns out well.

Between this one and the last one, I'm starting to wonder what it is with FLB and child molestation. Is it that common, and if so, why didn't it happen to me? Sure, I'm not a big eyed, elvin-like waif, like a trademarked FLB character, but c'mon. It's enough to make a girl start screeching to every creep on the A train, "You didn't molest me! YOU DON'T LOVE ME!"

Movie tie-in

Incidentally, the Little Red Riding Hood as molestorino story is quite common. I think I even saw a film version.

And yes, getting kisses on the lips from John Stamos before he tamed the savage beast that was his mullet counts as child abuse.


This one is FLB's Star Trek fanfic that accidentally made it into this collection. (Stupid editors.) Who knew? I always thought she'd be a Spock fan.

No, no, I kid. It's about the legend of Bluebeard, but this time, Bluebeard isn't an evil nobleman who kills his wives. He's a rich guy named Derrick Blue who owns a huge house, is really big in the Scene, and kills the pathetic groupies who hang at his place. (Though I can't really blame him for offing these sad skanks--on the scale of groupie loserdom, Derrick Blue groupies rate just above Insane Clown Posse groupies and just below Tito Jackson groupies.) At one of the parties he throws, he meets a skinny pale girl who wears too much eye make up. Ah, the FLB prototype, we meet again!

Skinny girl stays at his place, and he tells her he named himself after Bluebeard in the story and tells her stories about girls he's taken home in the past. The main character flees into the night and decides to tell the stories of all the girls he supposedly killed: This girl has a little knife to slash with, a little pocket knife, and she can run.

Meeting FLB at my hometown's independent bookstore

Sadako: So...did the girl in Bones kill Derrick Blue? And was Derrick Blue really a killer or was this just an American Psycho fantasy deal?

FLB: Ummm. Which story was this again?

Sadako: Uh...the...Bluebeard one?

FLB: Oh, um, yeah, sure. Want to know some more quirky facts about me? When I was thirteen, I wore nothing but lingerie and fairy wings and combat boots to school every day. And I have a tattoo of a fairy bathing in the moonlight on my left hip. And my cats are named Artemis and Luna--isn't that quirky?

The FLB fan girls swooned, I sulked and left without getting my book stamped with her autograph, and so ended yet another literary love.