Dreaming of My Secret Agent Lover Man

Weetzie Bat, by Francesca Lia Block (1989)

What a strange book this is.

Another one on my long list for YA Lit, Weetzie Bat is one of the weirdest books I’ve encountered in a long time. And yet, I really liked it. I mean, take this pulled quote, for instance:

“In between kisses My Secret Agent Lover Man made films of Weetzie putting her hands and feet into the movie-star prints at Graumann’s, serving French toast at Duke’s, dressing up in Fifi’s gowns, rollerskating down the Venice boardwalk with Slinkster Dog pulling her along, Weetzie having a pow-wow and taking bubble baths. Sometimes he filmed her surfing with Dirk and Duck, or doing a reggae dance with Ping while Valentine and Rapahel played drums.”

And this is what the whole book is like. All 109 pages of it.

The story starts with Weetzie Bat (daughter to Charlie and Brandy-Lynn Bat) and her gay best friend Dirk palling around late 1980s Los Angeles, drinking lemonade and swinging rubber chickens out of windows while driving down the street. Sometimes they hang out with Dirk’s grandmother Fifi, who lives in a house that I picture as the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel. Pink and sugary.

I tagged this as a fantasy story, but really it’s only slightly fantasy. And actually, it would be better categorized as “fairy-taley”, if that were a category. Right before Fifi dies, she gives Weetzie a “golden thing” that produces a genie when Weetzie tries to polish it. The genie gives Weetzie three wishes: “a Duck for Dirk, My Secret Agent Lover Man for me, and a beautiful little house for us to live in happily ever after.” And so it happens. Exactly as she wishes for. Dirk soon falls in love with a guy named Duck, and Weetzie snags a fella named My Secret Agent Lover Man. And Fifi leaves them her house in her will. Together, all four of them (with a couple more additions), live and love in Fifi’s old house in L.A.

Block addresses a combination of issues through her unique characters, in a time when many of these things were still left unsaid, including homosexuality, blended families, divorce, drugs, and AIDS. And actually, she addresses all these without actually writing any of those words. They are dealt with, confronted, but not the central focus. Like we all face in life, Weetzie and her strange family deal with some really tough stuff, but instead of dwelling on that, they “choose to plug into the love current instead.” Basically, Block agrees with the Beatles. All you need is love.

Charming and strange, in all the right ways (think The Little Prince).

2.5 stars

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One thought on “Dreaming of My Secret Agent Lover Man

  1. I read this when I was approximately 14! Actually I think I read Dangerous Angels which is the whole series. And then I read The Rose and the Beast. They’re all weird. But delightful nonetheless.

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