Nymph by Francesca Lia Block
Rating: R; 3 1/2 stars
Summary: Nymph was simultaneously similar two and completely different from the rest of Francesca Lia Block's work. This short book is a series of connected erotic short stories. These stories are definitely far more explicit than most of the rest of Block's work, but that doesn't mean they don't contain the spark that makes her writing so memorable. As in her other books, Nymph is rife with the rhythm and life of LA. The stories contain that mix of fantasy and reality that Block is known for.
Opinions: So somehow I missed that memo that this book was erotica. That's neither good nor bad, just an oversight on my part. Since most of what I review is suitable for a young adult audience, readers should be aware that this may not be. I say “may,” because I believe that there really isn't an age limit on books.
That being said, I was very pleasantly surprised with the priority that the actual story took in these pieces. In my (admittedly rather limited) experience with erotica, the story and characters often take a backseat to the sex. This definitely isn't the case here. These stories are woven as deftly as any work of Block's, and the language, characters, and plot are quite obviously one of her priorities.
My favorite story is the first one. I love the idea of it, and I think it was executed perfectly. Although I didn't like some of the stories as much as “Mer,” they all had something to them that I enjoyed. I wish they had been a little more connected, since they were advertised as connected, but sometimes the subtleties and unexpected connections were refreshing. I'm thinking specifically of the connection between “Mer” and “Spirit,” which is probably my second favorite story.
Obviously, I've rated this book R for being sexually explicit. There's no violence, as far as I can recall. I also don't recall any explicit language used outside of sex. I gave it a 3.5 because as interesting and well-written as these stories were, I didn't find a lot of reread value in them. I can't say why, but that's unfortunately the way I feel. I also think that in some ways some of the stories were limited by their erotic nature—the stories were all very short, and I think Block could have done some really wonderful things with them had there not been so much sex. However, as erotica, these are by far the best stories I've ever read—who said literature couldn't be sexy? I'm also aware that I may be biased because I didn't realize this book was erotic in the first place.
Readers of erotica will love the quality of writing in these stories. Readers of Block's other books may find their genre preference expanded after reading this book.
I purchased a physical copy of this book for my mother, and I was also given a complimentary ebook by the publisher for review.