Weetzie Bat


Weetzie Bat

Infobox Book |
name = Weetzie Bat
title_orig =
translator =


image_caption =
author = Francesca Lia Block
cover_artist = Suza Scalora
country = United States
language = English
series = Dangerous Angels series
genre = Young adult novel
publisher = Harper Collins
release_date = 1989
media_type = Print (Paperback)
pages = 109 pp
isbn = ISBN 0060736259
preceded_by =
followed_by = Witch Baby

"Weetzie Bat" is the first novel written by American author Francesca Lia Block and was originally published in 1989. It is most often categorized as fiction for young adults.

The narrative follows the adventures of the eponymous character Weetzie and her best friend Dirk, their friends and relations. On being granted three wishes by a genie, Weetzie discovers that the ramifications of her wishes are not exactly what she had been expecting.

The story is set in an almost dream-like, heightened version of Los Angeles, aptly referred to as Shangri-L.A., in an indefinite time period that evokes both the essence of the 1980s punk craze and the sophisticated glamour of Hollywood in the 1950s. Block's use of language is original and poetic. She has crafted a form of slang for her characters' speech, coining such phrases as 'duck-hunting' - meaning to go out looking for potential dates.

The novel is set in a world not without pain, but seemingly without prejudice. Issues such as blended families, premarital sex, homosexuality and AIDS are described freely and without apology. This has led to some backlash from parents who do not believe that such material has a place in young adult fiction.

"Weetzie Bat" is the first of Francesca Lia Block's "Dangerous Angels" series.

Plot summary

The novel opens with a description of the main character’s world, Weetzie’s world, in which she grew up. She does not like school and tends to avoid friendship until she meets Dirk, the “best-looking guy” in her school. They quickly become best friends and love to take rides in Dirk’s car, which he has named Jerry. They often visit Fifi, Dirk’s grandmother.

One night at a concert, Weetzie and Dirk were out “duck hunting.” Weetzie was infatuated with the lead singer and had a “one night stand.” The next morning Dirk inquires about the bruise that is on Weetzie’s arm and discovers that she has been seeing all the wrong ducks. She desires to meet “My Secret Agent Lover Man.”

Weetzie and her father, Charlie Bat, are eating at the Tick Tock Tea Room. They chat for a while and Charlie inquires about Weetzie’s mother, his now ex-wife. The author describes how Weetzie’s parents met. Charlie moved to L.A. to become a special effects man and her mother, Brandy-Lynn, was an actress. It was "love at first sight" but the marriage did not last.

Weetzie and Dirk are at Fifi’s home and they tell her that they want to find ducks. Fifi compares them to her birds. She gives Weetzie a lamp. As Weetzie polishes the lamp, a genie appears and is prepared to grant her three wishes. She wishes for world peace and an infinite amount of wishes, both which the genie cannot provide. Weetzie then asks for Dirk to find a duck, for herself to find My Secret Agent Lover Man, and a house for them all to live in together. The genie grants her wishes but refuses to return to his lamp and disappears. Dirk calls to announce that Fifi has died but that she has left them her house. They move into their new home.

Dirk tells Weetzie that he has found his duck named Duck. Duck moves in with Dirk and Weetzie, but Weetzie cannot understand why she has not met her duck yet.

Weetzie is working at Duke’s when she meets a man, Valentine Jah-Love, and his Chinese wife, Ping-Chong, and their baby. The author describes how the husband and wife met in Jamaica, and Ping became pregnant. She wrote to Valentine to tell him that she was pregnant and he met her in L.A. and married her. Their baby boy was named Raphael. They all became good friends with Weetzie. As Weetzie is driving them to the airport one day, they see Jah-Love in graffiti, which Valentine sees as a sign that Weetzie will meet her duck. One day, Weetzie is at work when a film director declares that he wants to put her in one of his films and introduces himself as My Secret Agent Lover Man. Day after day he keeps returning to ask her to be in his film. He asks her out for a drink but surprises her with champagne on the beach where he starts filming her. She tries to stop him from filming and they kiss. This is the beginning of their relationship together. Weetzie, My Secret Agent Lover Man, Duck, Dirk, and their dogs live together as a family.

Weetzie is contemplating the meaning of “happily ever after” with Dirk. My Secret Agent Lover Man has finished his third film in which they all made enough money to purchase a 1965 T-Bird. Everything seems to be going fine except that Weetzie wants a baby. My Secret Agent Lover Man declares that he will not have a baby. Dirk and Duck come home to see Weetzie crying and they said that they will sleep with her so she can have a baby. They believe that My Secret Agent Lover Man will love the baby once he sees it. Weetzie, Dirk, and Duck go out for drinks to toast the baby and they go home, sleep together, and she gets pregnant. My Secret Agent Lover Man is furious when he finds out what she did and he leaves her. Nine months go by, all the while Duck and Dirk are supporting Weetzie. She has her baby girl, named Cherokee, in the same hospital in which she was born. They return home and the next morning, My Secret Agent Lover Man is waiting for her when she wakes up. He apologizes and they try to decide whose baby it is but are unable. Dirk and Duck enter the room and all five of them hug each other as a family.

A woman appears at their door and Weetzie answers. The woman is furious and asks for Max, which is My Secret Agent Lover Man. He explains to Weetzie that the woman is a witch that he met while he and Weetzie were broken up. The witch is pregnant with his child and wants money for an abortion and he gives it to her. Weetzie was mad at My Secret Agent Lover Man but Dirk and Duck convince her to forgive him. A few months later, they discover the witch’s baby on their doorstep with several dolls with missing heads. My Secret Agent Lover Man does not want to keep the baby but Weetzie insists and calls her Lily. They all become one family. The Witch Baby, as Lily is nicknamed, behaves horribly but they continue to love and support her.

Everyone is out to eat one night when they notice that the town is already decorated for Christmas in October. It is for a film and Weetzie declares that it looks like Shangri-L.A., which becomes the name of My Secret Agent Lover Man’s next film. The filming of the movie begins and everyone participates in the making. Yet they cannot decide how it should end so they tell Weetzie to ask her father how it should end. Weetzie and Cherokee visit Charlie and he does not look healthy. Over the next few days, they tour N.Y. and visit all the tourist sites. Weetzie inquires about Charlie’s health in which he says he is all right, and he then inquires about Brandy-Lynn. Weetzie tries to convince her father that her mother misses him but he refuses to believe it. Weetzie then asks her father how the movie should end and his suggestion was depressing. Weetzie knows that he is in bad condition. Weetzie pleads with him to return but he cannot. Weetzie returns home and talks to her mother about Charlie’s bad health and says that she should call him but her mother will not. A few days later, Weetzie gets the news that Charlie has died. She, My Secret Agent Lover Man, Duck, Dirk, the children, and all the dogs mourn together. Brandy-Lynn is also grieving and Weetzie assures her that Charlie loved her, and she confesses that she still loved him. Later, Shangri-L.A. is completed and they dedicate it to Charlie.

Duck comes home crying one day and locks himself in his room and will not even confide in Dirk. This surprises everyone and they discover him missing the next morning. He has left a note saying that his friend Bam-Bam is ill and it seems to imply that he will never return. Dirk is devastated. Dirk and everyone leave to search the town to find Duck with no luck and Dirk returns the next morning. Dirk decided to drive to San Francisco to look for Duck. Dirk goes to different bars and finds Duck. When they meet, they embrace and declare their love for one another. They stay in a hotel that night and Dirk drives Duck home the next morning. When they return home, everyone is waiting for them happily, as a family. Weetzie has not discovered what “happily ever after” is but she has discovered “happily.”

Characters

* Weetzie Bat: The central character of the book. Daughter of Brandy-Lynn and Charlie Bat. At the beginning of the novel, Weetzie is in high school. In high school, she befriends Dirk and grandmother presents Weetzie with a magic lamp. She makes three wishes. After that turn of events, Weetzie and Dirk inherit his grandmother’s home. Weetzie finds her duck, My Secret-Agent Lover Man. She lives with him, Dirk, and Dirk’s duck.

*Dirk: The best friend of Weetzie Bat. Dirk has blue eyes and a black Mohawk when the reader meets him. He drives a 1955 red Pontiac named Jerry, after Jerry Lewis. Just like Weetzie, Dirk does not have great taste in men.

*My Secret-Agent Lover Man: A movie director with green eyes who rides a motorcycle. He appears in Weetzie’s life after her three wishes. My Secret-Agent Lover Man approaches Weetzie to be in his films. The two fall in love and move in together. Although My Secret-Agent Lover Man loves Weetzie, he does not want to have children. When Weetzie gets pregnant, he is not very happy. After Weetzie has Cherokee, a strange woman shows up at the house and leaves My Secret-Agent Lover Man’s illegitimate child. My Secret-Agent Lover Man grows to love both children and embrace his non-traditional family.

*Duck: A short, blonde, freckly male surfer who wears leather. He drives a light-blue Volkswagen Beetle. Duck met Dirk at a bar and fell in love with him. He moved in with Dirk and Weetzie. When his friend BamBam gets sick, he questions life and love. Eventually he returns to their home and appreciates the loving atmosphere, family, and life they all created.

*Slinkster Dog and Go Go Girl: Slinkster Dog is Weetzie’s dog. My Secret-Agent Lover Man buys Go Go Girl as a mate for Slinkster Dog. He thinks Go Go Girl will solve Weetzie’s desire to have children (because Slinkster and Go Go can have puppies).

*Cherokee: Weetzie’s daughter. Her father could be My Secret-Agent Lover Man, Dirk, or Duck. Weetzie resolves that all three of these men are Cherokee’s father.

*Witch Baby: The daughter of My Secret-Agent Lover Man and Vixanne (aka the Lanka). Weetzie named her Lily, but it never stuck. Witch Baby becomes Cherokee’s sister.

*Grandma Fifi: Dirk’s grandmother. She is a sweet, powdery lady with perfect white hair. She gives Weetzie an old lamp that grants Weetzie three wishes. When she dies, Grandma Fifi leaves her house to Dirk and Weetzie.

*Charlie Bat: Weetzie’s father. He is a handsome man who came to L.A. from Brooklyn in the late 1950s to write screenplays. He took a job as a special effects man but started writing and producing screenplays. Charlie met Weetzie’s mother, Brandy-Lynn, on the set of one of his films. After they were divorced he moved back to New York.

*Valentine JahLove, Ping Chong, and Raphael Chong JahLove: Valentine is a tall Rastafarian. Ping Chong is a tiny, Chinese woman working as a fashion designer in L.A. (Shangri-L.A). She meets Valentine when she is abroad buying fabric. After returning to the states, Ping Chong learns she is pregnant with Valentine’s baby. Valentine moves to L.A. to be with his family. They have a son named Raphael.

*Brandy-Lynn: Weetzie’s mother. Weetzie lived in L.A. with Brandy-Lynn while she grew up. She was an actress when she was younger. Brandy-Lynn is often seen drinking or popping Valium.

*Vixanne (aka “the Lanka”): A woman with long, black hair, purple, tilty eyes and a long body. According to My Secret-Agent Lover Man, Vixanne was a witch. She came to the family’s house asking for money for an abortion. A few months later she drops off Witch Baby.

Themes

* Blended families
* Love
* Homosexuality
* Drug abuse
* Rape
* Fairy tale
* Premarital Sex
* AIDS

Criticism

Criticism of "Weetzie Bat" focuses primarily on the appropriateness of the subject matter for the young adult reader. "Weetzie Bat" describes gay marriage, children out of wedlock, abortion, common-law marriage and the AIDS epidemic in language which makes it accessible to the pre-teen and early teen reader. Alan Cart states “Francesca Lia Block's "Weetzie Bat" (HarperCollins) is not only a classic of gay fiction but also one of the most memorable of all young adult novels. [Cart, Michael. (2004).” What a Wonderful World: Notes on the Evolution of GLBTQ Literature for Young Adults” The ALAN Review, Volume 31, Number 2 ] ”

Critics such as Mercier suggest that the material in "Weetzie Bat" glosses over intergender and interracial sex in a fashion which makes it seem achievable to an early teen reader. “Block continues to push at the limitations of “appropriate” content in young adult books: she portrays transexual, gay, and lesbian characters; she includes young people who drink alcohol and use/abuse drugs; and describes sex explicitly and symbolically to convey passion and emotional sterility. [Mercier, Cathryn M. Booklist: For older readers. Horn Book Magazine. 72.6 (Nov/Dec 1996):742.] ” "Weetzie Bat" was put on the banned book list by one group because they did not approve of Block’s “ideas and views on a variety of issues surrounding alternative lifestyles [B.G. Censorship Watch. American Libraries. 34.4 (March 2003):15.] ” according to the B.G. Censorship Watch of American Libraries.

Critics such as Platzner offer that while the material is suggestive, the dialogue which it establishes about these depictions is vital to a developing young adult’s perspectives on difficult social issues. Platzer offers this as explanation: “"For what age do you think these books are appropriate?’ asks our professor. "Thirty two," I whisper to my friend who sits next to me. "Twenty five," she scribbles back on my notebook. We think of these books as "a find," and imagine a time when we will be in a position to pass them on to just-the-right kids. For now though, we’ll share them with our friends. [Platzner, Rebecca. (1998). "Collage in Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat Books." The ALAN Review, Volume 25, Number 2, 23-26.] ”----

References


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