Francesca Lia Block. Circlet Press, $16.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-1-885865-30-4
The author of the beloved Weetzie Bat books and other popular YA titles offers a slim collection of adult stories, erotica for grown-up goth maidens and sexpots who like their tales of passion infused with witchy magic. These nine interconnected tales celebrate carnal delights and the transformative power of love, with occasional lapses into syrupy repetition, but they also peek compassionately into romances laced with themes of grief, heartbreak and renewal. A bummed-out surfer gets a second chance at happiness when he meets a beautiful woman in a wheelchair, who may or may not be a mermaid. The spirits of these lovers mythically revitalize the relationship between Sylvie and Ben, a couple whose sex life is on the skids when Sylvie's antidepressants flatten her libido. Sylvie reappears elsewhere, as the sister of a cancer patient, David, who dies in spite of a loving nurse's attempt at sexual healing. Another recurring character is Plum, who has ""the gift of love"": those she sleeps with meet their true love soon after. Plum is therefore always being left: in ""Milagro,"" she shares an idyllic night with the boy she loves, only to find out he's gay; in another story she sleeps with Sylvie, allowing Sylvie to meet Ben. Plum discovers that her gift can come full circle when she wins the love of aspiring actor Elvis Dean, who has been inconsolable since his girlfriend Coco left him to become a stripper and was mutilated by a plastic surgeon. All set in Los Angeles, Block's tales feature her distinctive simplicity and sweetly sleazy downtown dreamers; the sex scenes are heady though hazy with a mystical slant that blunts the erotic edge and makes the collection palatable for hardcore romantics. (June) FYI: Nymph is Circlet Press's first hardcover title.
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000