cover image Girl Goddess: Nine Stories

Girl Goddess: Nine Stories

Francesca Lia Block. Harper Teen, $14.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027211-1

Writing with the same sense of wonder that gives such magic to Weetzie Bat and her other novels, Block turns out nine short stories that share a similar theme. Here, as in her previous work, the author sets about deflating the oppositions that most people either reinforce or invent in order to distance themselves from others: carefree child/knowing adult; straight/gay; black/white; male/female. In one of the most ambitious entries, ""Dragons in Manhattan,"" a girl with two mothers decides to find her father and, after traveling from New York to California, learns that one of the ""mothers"" is in fact her father, a transsexual. Throughout, eros and love receive modulated but frank tribute. The roses, camellias and jacarandas of Block's lush prose style scent these works with a heady perfume; the disadvantage here has to do with her manipulation of the short story genre. Atmosphere is built at the expense of momentum, and the collection as a whole, while still superior to most YA writing, doesn't achieve the heights of the author's best fiction. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)