Block, Francesca Lia. Psyche in a Dress. Joanna Cotler Books, 2006. ISBN 0060763728. $15.99. 116 p.
Reviewer: Eliza Nevin
Reading Level: Young adult
Genre: Folklore; Fiction;
Subject: Mythology, Greek--Juvenile fiction; Psyche (Greek deity)--Juvenile fiction; Actors and actresses--Juvenile fiction; Books--Reviews;
Block, in her erotic, fragmented poetry-prose, gives the characters in Psyche in a Dress the names and story lines of Greek myths. Psyche, the soul, is a seventeen-year-old girl trapped in her filmmaker father's visions of art. She performs for his cameras but yearns for her missing mother. When Eros, her first lover, comes to her she is so taken by his beauty that she thinks she is not enough for him, a god, and scares him away. She then becomes Echo to Narcissus, Eurydice to Orpheus, and travels to her own personal hell, becoming Hades's lover, in her attempts to sacrifice enough to bring Eros back. He comes back only to give her their child, Joy. Psyche is now Demeter to her daughter's Persephone as she tries to save Joy from her own Hades. Eventually, Eros returns to her as she learns how to love herself as a goddess.
Block creates in this book a modern, rich world of intoxicating flowers and lovers. Psyche's world is enchanting and beautiful, but dangerous and frightening as well. Her father she describes as "her [mother's] own hell god." Psyche's chapters alternate with chapters expanding on the lives of the other significant characters she meets. The many stories of the gods and goddesses in this book are mature—sex seems to be a requirement for closeness, although closeness does not always accompany it. The book, however, is engaging as it brings mythology to life for readers mature enough to handle it. This book may be a starting point—or accompaniment—for learning about Greek mythology.
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