Quakeland

Quakeland

by Francesca Lia Block

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Overview

“[Francesca Lia] Block writes about the real Los Angeles better than anyone since Raymond Chandler.”— The New York Times Book Review

“[Block] uses language like a jeweled sword glittering as it cuts to the heart.”— Kirkus Reviews

After enduring from afar a seemingly endless series of outside worldwide disasters—including 9/11 and the Asian tsunami—while living in earthquake-prone Los Angeles, a bereft Katrina experiences deep inner longings for some sense of permanence, meaning, and intimacy. A preschool teacher contemplating the unsettling challenges of her mid-life, she finds solace in the company of her dear friend Grace, and conflict in the arms of a narcissistic yoga instructor, Jasper.

In this intertwining series of emotionally charged stories, wistful characters weave together a dance of joy and sorrow, gain and loss, harmony and dissonance. Beautifully written, Quakeland speaks in a deeply stirring female voice to an unspoken sense of universal longing that seems quietly prevalent in these times. It is a brave, poetic work that acknowledges the pain and loss we live with every day, and offers hope—through art and through connection—of something more.

Francesca Lia Block is renowned for her groundbreaking novels and stories, including the best-selling Weetzie Bat —postmodern, magic-realist tales for all ages. Her work transports readers through the harsh landscapes of contemporary life to magic realms of the senses where love is always a saving grace. She lives in Los Angeles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781933149233
Publisher: Manic D Press, Inc.
Publication date: 04/01/2008
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author


Francesca Lia Block, winner of the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling books, including DANGEROUS ANGELS, THE WEETZIE BAT BOOKS, ROSES AND BONES: MYTHS, TALES AND SECRETS, and the adult novel THE ELEMENTALS. Her work has been translated and published around the world. She lives in Los Angeles with her two children. Learn about her books and writing classes at francescaliablock.com.

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Quakeland 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
mayaspector on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book quite moving. Other reviewers here have complained that it's depressing. They're right. But I don't get why that automatically means it gets a low rating. Relationships are challenging. We lose people we love. Block writes about that, beautifully.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a dreamy book that starts out fairly strong, or at least is intriguing: we're introduced to Katrina, who suffers prophetic nightmares of disasters around the world, who is insecure and sad and wants love so badly she gets involved with a terribly annoying, new-agey, self-absorbed man. I got into this part of the book, despite feeling sad for Katrina; the language is lovely, and I wanted to know more about her. Unfortunately, Katrina's story just seems to trail off, somewhat unresolved, at which point Block gives us several shorter vignettes that follow similar themes.Even these shorter vignettes hold promise, for the most part, but Block seems to have included at least one slightly different version of Katrina's story, told from a different perspective, which becomes very confusing (particularly since people are frequently not named).Block has a gift for beautiful language and imagery, but I enjoy her books most when there is a strong backbone of story and plot to hold up the glitter. This book feels unfinished, and lacks enough backbone to really stand on its own. When I was reading it, I found it engaging enough, but it was easy to put down and I did not feel strongly enticed to pick it up again.I also have to admit (and this is just my own reaction to it, rather than a value judgement, and didn't really affect my rating of the book too much) that I found the book as a whole intensely depressing. The message seems to be that loneliness is more common than not, that fragility is more likely than strength, that even powerful love does not last, and that men will let you down. I was left with a strong (although transitory) sense of sadness when I finished it, perhaps in part because it stands in such stark contrast to Block's earlier, more starry-eyed works.
HelenaHandbasket on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you read to escape the inevitable joy and sadness of the human condition, then Quakeland will sorely disappoint. But if you seek emotional truths depicted in literature, then this is a great summer read. For me, I've rarely seen myself reflected in contemporary characters offered in today's fiction - a woman in her 40s, struggling daily in a relationship that many confidantes think is just no good, wracked with self-doubt, overwhelmed. Quakeland's Katrina comes pretty damn close.And when Katrina loses a good friend to cancer, well, just in the last two months I've lost four friends (ages 43, 53, 50, and 60), just up and dying. One day they're there, and then they're gone forever. Quakeland hits that painful emotional truth full on.Quakeland begins in a place of melancholy and leaves off in a place of deep longing. Maybe it's just where I'm at in my life but this book resonated with me. Big time.No, Quakeland does not end with everyone living happily ever after ... and yes, the characters are almost unbearably human in their weaknesses and flaws. And, indeed, it's a departure from Block's previous work, but why shouldn't she be allowed to grow up as a writer?
amysisson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first came across Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books during my young adult lit class in library school. They weren't required reading for that class, but another student spoke very highly of them and I eventually sought them out. I found them to be lovely and charming, and I followed them to FLB's Violet & Claire, which was much darker in tone and subject matter, but still contained the magic quality I had come to associate with FLB's writing.Unfortunately, Quakeland has not followed suit. The dustjacket describes it as an "intertwining series of emotionally charged stories," but I found it to be a depressing and utterly confusing mess. The main character, Katrina, experiences disaster on every level. She has prophetic dreams that foretell September 11 and the Asian Tsunami of 2004 (and her name was certainly not chosen by accident). She takes Zoloft to control the dreams, but stops taking it when her new boyfriend, Jasper, tells her to. She's has a sex addiction that qualifies as unhealthy. A close friend experiences a recurrence of skin cancer. And the worst is that instead of being supportive, Jasper is cruel to the point of abuse. Because he's so "in touch with his feelings," he believes he must tell Katrina every hurtful thought he has about her, including the fact that he's glad she's not as attractive as other women because she's therefore not as much of a distraction.Depression and pscyhological abuse are valid subjects for both fiction and nonfiction, although they are not subjects I tend to read about because, quite frankly, I already know a lot of people who are either clinically depressed or have other anxiety problems, and I don't feel I gain much by witnessing even more of it via fiction. But even without this personal bias of mine, I don't feel that Quakeland presents these subjects in an effective way.First, there's just too much going on. (Warning: spoilers follow.) Katrina's friend Grace does indeed die of skin cancer, leaving behind three-year-old twins who have always sparked Katrina's jealousy, since she herself wants a baby and has already had a miscarriage. Jasper is impotent. Another friend named Kali reads Katrina's past lives, naturally "discovering" that Katrina has been through this victim cycle before, possibly with Jasper in one of his previous lives. Kali too was once ruled by her belief that she was nobody without a man. Katrina obsesses about earthquakes. People keep taking off their clothes and dancing for no apparent reason. Katrina has a hideous dating history. And on and on and on....And while many novels (or collections of linked stories) both justify and effecitvely manage this level of complexity, Quakeland makes it worse by containing sections in which the reader cannot tell if Katrina is awake or dreaming; whether Katrina is writing a letter or writing in a diary or simply relating something to the reader; or whether another character entirely is "speaking" (made even more confusing in that some sections are headed by other characters' names). The book also seems, to me, to have a higher-than-average number of typos, the kind that exist specifically for copyeditors to find, such as "she couldn't bare to have her children see this."In the end, I'm afraid that I couldn't quite finish this book. I'm willing to work for it, but at two-thirds of the way through, Quakeland has too little payoff for too much effort.
nareshe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lyrical and dreamlike, Quakeland follows the intertwined stories of a group of women, telling the story of another woman who was somehow central to all of their lives--Grace. This is Grace's story, though the events of the book more revolve around her than are about her. She is the missing piece at the story's heart, the personal tsunami that echoes the real tsunami that provides the starting point for the book.I love Block's dream-naif prose, though I did have trouble connecting with Katrina and understanding why she was doing the things she was. I found the later narrators--the unnamed woman and Angeli--to be much more comprehensible, if only because they were watching the drama from the outside instead of directly living the story.Overall, well worth picking up!
BookNrrrd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan of Francesca Lia Block for years. Quakeland shares some elements typical of Block's work, but it's also a significant departure from her other novels (at least, those which I've read). Block writes a distinctive form of Magical Realism, usually set against the backdrop of the Los Angeles area. Her characters are hippie types (or punks with hippie hearts), searching for love and beauty in the midst of ugliness and tragedy. What makes Quakeland different from her previous offerings is that the characters here seem to be seeking without actually doing much finding. On the surface, they are typical of her characters: they go to yoga and modern dance classes; they eat vegetarian; they do past-life regressions; they're hippies, punks, and surfers. But they don't seem to be getting the answers they're looking for. This book is much sadder, less whimsical, than any other Block novel I've read. The characters are also older -- this is not a YA novel. Although not specified, the characters seem to be in their 30s or perhaps 40s, and are dealing with the attendant issues of that age: marriage, children, the mortality of their parents and peers. Perhaps that explains the undercurrent of desperation and sorrow that runs through Quakeland -- here are people who are struggling, in a world of seemingly unending international disasters, to recapture the magic that seemed so abundant when they were young. There is something to be said for that story, which is why I cannot completely dismiss this book. However, I think fans of Block's may be disappointed by this departure, and newcomers may be perplexed by the characters' airy-fairy quirks.The other major thing to note about Quakeland is its unusual format. It's not so much a novel as it is 5 stories, connected more closely at some places than others. Block plays a great deal with narrative style and chronology; she uses dreams, journal entries, vignettes, and switches back and forth between first- and third-person. At one point, she seems to be telling the story from the point of view of Los Angeles itself, although I wasn't exactly clear on that. I find, with writing experiments such as this, that there is a fine line between challenging the reader and confusing her, and I feel that Block might have erred too much on the side of the latter. I also could not tell whether the repeating of similar words and phrases was done with intent or was the result of poor editing. I wanted very much to like Quakeland, and I didn't exactly dislike it. Still, the book seems to fall into some limbo of being different enough from the author's previous work to be a letdown, without breaking away from her usual style enough to seem fresh. p.s. If nothing else, the cover art is beautiful.
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