Friday, April 6, 2007
Review: Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block
"Psyche has know love - scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the women in the myths her lover once gave to her. But as she is repeatedly challenged, tested, tempted, and changed by beautiful gods and brutal demons, Psyche must discover a way to find herself again."
Far from action-packed adventures of brave heroes on perilous journeys, these contemporary retellings of Greek myths are erotic and intellectual, and they are for older readers (including adults) who can appreciate the meanings of the complex metaphors. These aren't playful fractured fairy tales. True to the original myth, Block takes Eros to Psyche's bed at night; Psyche loves him, though she has been warned never to look at him. Block also brings a contemporary sensibility to stories about other mythic figures, including Echo; Persephone; Narcissus, who loves himself; and Orpheus, who plays guitar in a seedy nightclub, where he has sex with the strippers before he meets Eurydice. Readers who don't get the allusions will be confused, even lost, but the short vignettes of urgent free verse make for a fast read, with delicate moments as well as scenes of monsters close to home. Block raises the edgy question, "Is beauty monstrous?" Hazel Rochman
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Francesca Lia Block is one of my role models. Her books have such dark content, but are at the same time both whimisical and magical. The language and her writing style make Block a fantastic writer and one of my absolute favorites. I have never been disappointed by one of her books.