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Block magic : categorization, creation, and influence of Francesca Lia Block’s Enchanted America McKinlay, Amanda Ellen

Abstract

This study addresses three questions concerning the young adult literature of Francesca Lia Block: (1) How does Block's writing fit into the tradition of fantasy literature for children? (2) How does she interpret and create her brand of magic realism? (3) What is the relevance of Block's writing to young adults? A review of the limited literary commentary on the subject of Block's works reveals that Block's place and impact in the field of children's literature is largely ignored. Critical literature relates a confusion surrounding Block's categorization in the areas of genre and audience. Block's influence on her young adult readers is scarcely addressed in critical works. Text-based research examines the characteristics of genres relating to Block's literature, including "magic realism," lo real marveilloso americano, "baroque," and "American fairy tale." Content analysis of the stylistic elements at work in Block's literature supports a new classification of Block's works as enchanted American realism. Reviewer comments and the author's personal comments direct Block's literature to a mature audience. The relevance of Block's literature to young adults is established through content and cultural analysis of her fans' online postings. This study reveals that Francesca Lia Block occupies a wholly unique place in children's literature. The findings indicate that Block's works resist classification in standard, pre-conceived categories of genre and audience. Findings also relate the significant influence Block's writing has on young adult readers' psyches.

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