Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block is the first piece of Los Angeles Literature I ever read. I was near the end of elementary school and just turned 12. I’d heard Block speak at the First Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books a month before. All I remember from that panel was that she had published a controversial young adult novel in 1989, that she began as an undergrad at UC Berkeley. The novel included two prominent gay characters, Dirk and Duck, who become each other’s committed partners. I do not remember thinking that two important gay characters in a novel was controversial, regardless that Block wrote young adult fiction. Although on some level, within the larger world, I knew it was.
I was interested in the novel because it was set in L.A. The city where I was born and growing up.
Weetzie Bat is a novel set mostly in Hollywood—Block’s home turf—told from the point of view of the title character. From the opening sentence, “the reason Weetzie Bat hated high school was because no one understood,” Block informs the reader the novel’s about social outcasts. 1980s punks and the jacket copy echoes just that. Weetzie Bat is a “bleach-blond punk pixie.” Unlike her peers who, “didn’t even realize where they were living…,” Weetzie loves her Hollywood. “Marilyn’s prints were practically in their backyard at Graumann’s” and they can get “all-night potato knishes at Canter’s.” Then she meets Dirk, who does care.