Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticism

Michelle Tea. Feminist, $18.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-936932-18-4
Tea (The Chelsea Whistle) takes readers on a raucous tour through American counterculture, instructing readers in what it means, and has meant, to be a queer feminist in the United States. The essay collection pulses with frequently dark and often hilarious anecdotes from Tea’s life, such as the difficulties of maintaining her punk-goth style of whiteface and mohawks. Her voice and message are brightest in her less personal essays, such as “Hags in Your Face,” about a gang of punk rock lesbians­ (many of whom would transition to male later in life) who roamed in packs in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood in the 1990s. In “Summer of Lost Jobs,” Tea tactfully weaves tales of her teenage angst, alcoholism, and an encounter with Joey Ramone into an essay about the summer she was 16 and obsessed with fitting into the goth scene. Tea’s prose is conversational, whether writing about her stint traveling the country as part of a lesbian spoken-word collective or delving into complex topics such as the harassment of young women as a product of misogynist culture. Queer counterculture beats loud and proud in Tea’s stellar collection. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/02/2018
Release date: 05/08/2018
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