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Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms

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Valerie Solanas, a lesbian gang, recovering alcoholics, and teenagers surviving at a shop: these are some of the figures populating America's borders. These essays include fights and failures and the uncovering of and documentation of these lives. Michelle Tea reveals herself through these stories. Valerie Solanas, a lesbian gang, recovering alcoholics, and teenagers surviving at a shop: these are some of the figures populating America's borders. These essays include fights and failures and the uncovering of and documentation of these lives. Michelle Tea reveals herself through these stories.


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Valerie Solanas, a lesbian gang, recovering alcoholics, and teenagers surviving at a shop: these are some of the figures populating America's borders. These essays include fights and failures and the uncovering of and documentation of these lives. Michelle Tea reveals herself through these stories. Valerie Solanas, a lesbian gang, recovering alcoholics, and teenagers surviving at a shop: these are some of the figures populating America's borders. These essays include fights and failures and the uncovering of and documentation of these lives. Michelle Tea reveals herself through these stories.

30 review for Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    It's 5am. I am jittery from all the coffee I've fed into my system in an attempt to stave off sleep and instead spend my moonlit hours on the more worthwhile pursuit of reading this book. I am forever changed. This collection of personal anecdotes, journalistic pieces, wisdoms shared, and talks delivered are all centred around three topics - Art and Music, Love and Queerness, Writing and Life. Inside these topics lie a wealth of knowledge to be absorbed. I found myself lost to her conversational It's 5am. I am jittery from all the coffee I've fed into my system in an attempt to stave off sleep and instead spend my moonlit hours on the more worthwhile pursuit of reading this book. I am forever changed. This collection of personal anecdotes, journalistic pieces, wisdoms shared, and talks delivered are all centred around three topics - Art and Music, Love and Queerness, Writing and Life. Inside these topics lie a wealth of knowledge to be absorbed. I found myself lost to her conversational style of prose, enraptured by her raw and often abrasive recollections, and learning and growing and love more and more on every single page. This is the type of eyes-wide-open book that is so fleetingly rare and needs to be protected at all costs. Protected but also shared. Give it to all the women in your life - queer or otherwise - the men - open-minded or closed - and especially give this to all those who struggle to find their place inside of society's two neat, little binary boxes they think the tumultuous chaos of humanity can reside inside of. I'm going to close this little review with words for the wonderful human herself on why the world needs books such as this one in it: "I'm feeling it, the purpose and point of our political writings, our struggles. It's not to change the world that can't or won't be changed. It's to leave traces of ourselves for others to hold on to, a lifeline of solidarity that spans time, that passes on strength like a baton from person to person, generation to generation."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    Michelle Tea may just have become one of my favorite contemporary essayists. Although about all we have in common is that we come from the working class and have a nagging dissatisfaction with the way the world is, I was riveted by these essays. Tea's rebellious youth, her analysis of her favorite-and not-so-favorite bands, the struggle of transgendered women to find a place in the gay/queer/lesbian community, Valerie Solanas' (the woman who shot Andy Warhol) manifesto SCUM: her takes on all of Michelle Tea may just have become one of my favorite contemporary essayists. Although about all we have in common is that we come from the working class and have a nagging dissatisfaction with the way the world is, I was riveted by these essays. Tea's rebellious youth, her analysis of her favorite-and not-so-favorite bands, the struggle of transgendered women to find a place in the gay/queer/lesbian community, Valerie Solanas' (the woman who shot Andy Warhol) manifesto SCUM: her takes on all of these are fascinating. She made me aware of issues I had no familiarity with and she made me care about them. Plus just the raw energy and honesty of her writing is exciting. I loved her account of her touring with her band and of her adolescent quest to see Prince. Her life has often been painful (and her sharing of this pain is movingly written), she shimmers with vitality. Whatever else you could say about her-- former sex worker, wild child of drugs and drinking, her later sobriety--she is always interesting and thoughtful. I was particularly moved by her relationship with her mother and her account of her mother's struggle with health care. After working many years as a nurse, her mother finds herself poor and unable to help her husband (a licensed practical nurse) with his health care. He is unable to get on her policy because of a previously existing condition. Her mother's acceptance of her life and its extreme difficulties, her lack of hope or expectation of anything better is heartbreaking. And despite the tensions in their relationship, Tea's position as the daughter of barely-surviving working class parents and her compassion (if sometimes impatience as well), is also moving. I also loved Tea's accounts of marriage and motherhood. All of the essays are engaging, some are amazing. I can't wait to go find more of her work!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sassafras Lowrey

    This is probably my new favorite Michelle Tea book. If you're a writer you should read this. if you're queer you should read this. basically everyone should probably read this and it's easily in my top favorite books i've read so far this year. damn. this book is raw and brave and everything i would expect from Michelle Tea but even more! This is probably my new favorite Michelle Tea book. If you're a writer you should read this. if you're queer you should read this. basically everyone should probably read this and it's easily in my top favorite books i've read so far this year. damn. this book is raw and brave and everything i would expect from Michelle Tea but even more!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I love Michelle Tea’s heart and fearlessness, the range of topics she addresses, and the insights she provides into LGBTQ/working class issues and lifestyles. An important voice--and she writes good too.

  5. 4 out of 5

    El

    Michelle Tea has had quite a life. She's one of those raw-gritty-dirty writers that I find myself really appreciating and respecting because they've managed to overcome some super-shitty things and turn it all into quality writing. Originally I wanted to read Tea because she landed on some lists of hybridity in nonfiction that I have been looking at for school and I wanted to see what she was all about. This collection, sadly, was not in the realm of hybridity, per se, but I'm glad to have read Michelle Tea has had quite a life. She's one of those raw-gritty-dirty writers that I find myself really appreciating and respecting because they've managed to overcome some super-shitty things and turn it all into quality writing. Originally I wanted to read Tea because she landed on some lists of hybridity in nonfiction that I have been looking at for school and I wanted to see what she was all about. This collection, sadly, was not in the realm of hybridity, per se, but I'm glad to have read it anyway. Tea's essays have been published in xoJane, Believer, Bold Italic, Word Warriors, and more. Some of the pieces in here were given as talks at various events, speeches shared. The sections of the collection are broken into the various parts of Tea's life experiences: Art & Music, Love & Queerness, and Writing & Life. Through the different essays under each section, the reader gets to know Tea pretty intimately. She strikes me as an incredibly honest writer, someone who can appreciate that the things she has dealt with (friends dying of AIDS, a stepfather who drilled holes in the bedroom and bathroom walls to watch her undress, becoming sober) can possibly help other people who have been through equally shitty things. I haven't read anything else yet by Tea but I am glad to have started here. I like when writers share their lives with us, even when, on paper, they appear to be talking about Valerie Solanos or Purple Rain or whatever else. We all have these experiences of reading certain books or watching certain movies or hearing certain music at just the right time and our lives are altered in the best-possible-way-forever. Tea gets that. I get that. It's refreshing to see others write that. It's things like that, those moments and connections in our lives, that help us survive. This won't be the last book I read by Tea. She's one of those I want to write all-essays-all-the-time but that's only because I haven't read her novels or stories yet.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    Loved this - some of the essays/articles are short and a somewhat slighter and some are longer and totally amazing. The essay about the Hags was so great! Queerness, addictions, being outcast ... Stuff about Valerie Solanis and music. I felt like this book was written just for.me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Viv JM

    Michelle Tea is best known for her memoir writing. This book is basically a collection of memoirs in essay form. Which isn't to say it's not great; it is! Tea is funny, insightful and open and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Michelle Tea is best known for her memoir writing. This book is basically a collection of memoirs in essay form. Which isn't to say it's not great; it is! Tea is funny, insightful and open and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    My most frequent complaint about essay collections is that their contents are better read separately—in the most irritating instances, recycled anecdotes and statistics become distracting and upcoming rhetorical moves easily anticipated before they happen. Some internet thinkpieces should stay on the internet, especially if the writer only does a few flavors of essay. This is decisively not how I feel about Michelle Tea's Against Memoir, which I tore through in a day and a half. The essays span t My most frequent complaint about essay collections is that their contents are better read separately—in the most irritating instances, recycled anecdotes and statistics become distracting and upcoming rhetorical moves easily anticipated before they happen. Some internet thinkpieces should stay on the internet, especially if the writer only does a few flavors of essay. This is decisively not how I feel about Michelle Tea's Against Memoir, which I tore through in a day and a half. The essays span two decades, which I'm sure does wonders for content variety, but I suspect I would find her work from over a shorter period just as compelling. Tea's writing is intensely passionate yet informative, engagingly specific but shockingly, sometimes embarrassingly relatable, and intensely personal without feeling like oversharing, for all that she confesses to sometimes being too open about her life. It's hard to pick favorites. "On Valerie Solanas" and "Times Square" stuck out to me particularly in the Art & Music section, although it I should admit the essay genre "folks shouting articulately about their media passions" is basically my favorite, and "articulate" is not even close to adequate enough of a complete for the power of Tea's words. Another very niche/hard to define sort of category that some of the essays fall into is "in which a cisgender queer woman writes about her reconciling her identity and her attraction to trans people, and it is beautiful and empathetic and hopeful even though the subject is nearly impossible to discuss without being hurtful in some way"—the only other writer who I've had that experience with was Maggie Nelson in The Argonauts so I was ecstatic to experience it here. In Love & Queerness my favorites were "Transmissions from Camp Trans," "How to Not Be a Queer Douchebag," and "HAGS in Your Face," each for very different and complicated reasons. In Writing & Life, "Sister Spit Feminism" was the best storytelling and "Pigeon Manifesto" had the most jaw-dropping writing, and now I've listed almost half the essays so I'll stop. But I love this book! And I look forward to going back and reading some of Tea's older work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alvin

    This bedazzling collection of essays tackles a lot of heavy subjects, but with a light touch. Seamlessly blending personal history and politics, Tea examines a smorgasbord of (mostly) queer topics with curiosity, humor, compassion, and sharp-as-a-tack analysis. I devoured Against Memoir in two days, but will be thinking about it for years to come.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Cassie (book__gal)

    (4.5) Michelle Tea, I love your brain. This book of essays are some of the most impressive works of contemporary essay I’ve read. And if you’re looking for essays that write about queerness, and queer love, in an accessible and perspicuous way, this is it. I learned so much. Tea is funny and brave and acutely self-aware. And now I want to start writing again.

  11. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    There's something about women who just don't give a fuck that really appeals to me. It takes balls to not give a fuck. It takes recognizing your truths to not give a fuck. The way you perceive and interact with women on a whole, changes when you realize that they don't give a fuck. Especially when you think about how much we've been conditioned to give a fuck about so much fucking nonsense. It's something special when women reject that to focus on themselves, their lives, their loves. I think wo There's something about women who just don't give a fuck that really appeals to me. It takes balls to not give a fuck. It takes recognizing your truths to not give a fuck. The way you perceive and interact with women on a whole, changes when you realize that they don't give a fuck. Especially when you think about how much we've been conditioned to give a fuck about so much fucking nonsense. It's something special when women reject that to focus on themselves, their lives, their loves. I think women like Michelle Tea, who don't give a fuck and tell their truths so clearly, speak to me so deeply because they speak to the way that I want to live, personally. Michelle Tea lives her truth and it's blessed because it's not in this way that's like — oh, look at me, I'm rebellious, blah blah blah... it feels more honest than that. This memoir jumped down into my body and took hold. There are a few "pwf" (peak white feminist) moments that had me roll my eyes, but it's interesting because those moments that are usually cringe-as-fuck in every context, didn't hold as much weight here. To me, they had less to do with her actions and more to do with the fact that some of her and her girl gang's actions, in the larger more systemic context of things, could only be gotten away with because they were predominantly white. You'll understand what I mean when you read about her tour-life and interactions with the police. That's not to say that MT and her girl gang of bad bitch hags didn't get beat the fuck up; they did.. but they also got away with some shit because they had a pulled together white spokesperson who could manage and mitigate situations. It's always annoying to read moments where white privilege takes hold in a situation where other demographics are losing their lives today for lesser actions.. it's annoying to read situations like that but even more so when the person is oblivious or being disingenuous about their privilege; but I honestly didn't feel that was the case with Michelle Tea. Anyway, moving onwards, I feel that this memoir transcends so many frames of mind. I got taken to planes. I felt like this memoir has life. It's alive. It becomes a beat. It becomes some kind of pulse. The ups and downs, the eventual mellowing out; I really enjoyed all aspects of this memoir. I can see how some people wouldn't like it and it's palpably punk rock, queer, feminist perspectives. However, I kinda feel like it's the sort of book that if you put away your ideologies and just read it for what it is, it's frankness and passion will transform your thoughts of what it means to be a person in the world looking for yourself, finding yourself and riding your own wave through your years. I highly recommend this book and it's the best book I've read through the transition from 2018 to 2019.

  12. 4 out of 5

    T

    Every so often a book comes along and after reading it I feel profoundly changed. Not a change I can necessarily articulate right away, but the felt sense is unmistakably there. This is such a book. Essential reading and although I know it was not published in 2020, it is still the best book I have read this year.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    My review of Against Memoir is now up at 4Columns -- here's an excerpt: The title of this collection is, in part, ironic—Tea is a tireless chronicler of her life and we are the lucky beneficiaries. But there’s sincerity, too: Against Memoir sees Tea lose faith in writing, only to regain it again and again. In the title essay, Tea poses the question of whether writing itself might be an addiction: “so similar does it feel, an ecstasy of communion with yourself that facilitates the transcendence o My review of Against Memoir is now up at 4Columns -- here's an excerpt: The title of this collection is, in part, ironic—Tea is a tireless chronicler of her life and we are the lucky beneficiaries. But there’s sincerity, too: Against Memoir sees Tea lose faith in writing, only to regain it again and again. In the title essay, Tea poses the question of whether writing itself might be an addiction: “so similar does it feel, an ecstasy of communion with yourself that facilitates the transcendence of your self.” Though an anxiety about the potentially narcissistic nature of memoir surfaces repeatedly, what strikes me about her work here is how connective her first person is, how strongly she binds the personal to the communities and contexts that have shaped it, whether her family and her working-class community in Chelsea, Massachusetts, or the dyke punk subculture of 1990s San Francisco. Read more here: http://4columns.org/milks-m/against-m...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Liza

    Content note: transmisogyny Not many spoons so not many words. I spent a lot of this book feeling tired and disappointed. Michelle still gives me moments where I want to cry because I feel so seen, but they’re so rare in this book and it wasn’t enough to stop it feeling like a slog. None of her books have felt like a slog for me to read before. (The gender essentialism in this one didn’t help - I see that she tried to acknowledge transmisogyny as a queer concern but the way this happened felt a l Content note: transmisogyny Not many spoons so not many words. I spent a lot of this book feeling tired and disappointed. Michelle still gives me moments where I want to cry because I feel so seen, but they’re so rare in this book and it wasn’t enough to stop it feeling like a slog. None of her books have felt like a slog for me to read before. (The gender essentialism in this one didn’t help - I see that she tried to acknowledge transmisogyny as a queer concern but the way this happened felt a lot like lip service to me, particularly alongside her uncritical approval of Valerie Solanas and tacit referral of trans women as men who have renounced their man-ness, AND lumping trans men in with women in terms of formative experiences of misogyny.)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shatterlings

    Brilliant collection of essays, parts of them are hard to read, trigger warnings for drug use, alcohol addiction, miscarriage and sexual assault. But they are so well written, there is anger because that seems to be the emotion women have all the time, but there is also humour and love. The prose zips with energy and vibrancy. I am not doing this book justice so you’ll just have to read it yourself.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Madison Griffiths

    Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms starts painfully big: a generous, albeit unforgiving look at queerness, addiction, lust and adulthood from the inside. In it, Tea considers her own body as a source of joy, of illicit lust, of motion and disruption. But her collection is such that Tea slowly forgives as she grows older. No, it’s not that she necessarily forgives the structures that penalise, peep at, spoil queer bodies. She forgives herself: her own misgivings, and importantly Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms starts painfully big: a generous, albeit unforgiving look at queerness, addiction, lust and adulthood from the inside. In it, Tea considers her own body as a source of joy, of illicit lust, of motion and disruption. But her collection is such that Tea slowly forgives as she grows older. No, it’s not that she necessarily forgives the structures that penalise, peep at, spoil queer bodies. She forgives herself: her own misgivings, and importantly the flawed nature of how she documents her life at any given moment. Tea doesn’t care to fit in… and then she does, and then she doesn’t again, and we—her audience—aren’t meant to trust her. She doesn’t expect, nor want, us to. And such, we inevitably do, but the trust we have for her is laced with pardon, the way we’d trust our own recollection of a youth since forgotten, of our first heartache, of an onerous come down. We can be right, but not correct. It is jagged, but kind. Reading Tea, I think: yes, jagged but kind. How I’d like to be remembered.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Irene Benito

    It would be 3,5. This book is a compilation of texts, speeches and ruminations loosely revolving around queer and lesbian culture and the author’s life. They span a very long period of time, and also range from everything from 3 pages manifestos, to cultural commentary to 40 pages of autobiographical experiences, so the end result is also heterogeneous. The writing is very straightforward, cheeky and entertaining, which makes it a very light and easy read even though some topics are hard and may It would be 3,5. This book is a compilation of texts, speeches and ruminations loosely revolving around queer and lesbian culture and the author’s life. They span a very long period of time, and also range from everything from 3 pages manifestos, to cultural commentary to 40 pages of autobiographical experiences, so the end result is also heterogeneous. The writing is very straightforward, cheeky and entertaining, which makes it a very light and easy read even though some topics are hard and maybe triggering to some people (addictions, neglect, miscarriage). I have especially appreciated the honesty and lack of taboo about all issues treated, like the fetishization of trans men in some lesbian communities, the consequences of teenage alcoholism and above all, the essay about her mother’s complexity is wonderful. I was fooled by the title and expected more of a cultural analysis of people like Valerie Solanas, Prince or the HAGS and their influence, and indeed this is the part of the book I’ve enjoyed the most. But it is mostly non-linear and fragmentary memoir, and sometimes the narcissistic recount of every detail of our personal story, though amusing, is only of lasting interest for ourselves.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I have followed Michelle Tea's writing since the days of Adventure Girl and Sister Spit. I have always known that she was a capable writer who had a wild past, got sober, got married, had a kid and lived happily ever after. This book is a series of (mostly) autobiographical essays that go into further depth on all of those topics, as well as art, music, queerness, culture etc. I particularly enjoyed her writings about Valerie Solanas, her days in Sister Spit, the HAGS, and the queer scene of the I have followed Michelle Tea's writing since the days of Adventure Girl and Sister Spit. I have always known that she was a capable writer who had a wild past, got sober, got married, had a kid and lived happily ever after. This book is a series of (mostly) autobiographical essays that go into further depth on all of those topics, as well as art, music, queerness, culture etc. I particularly enjoyed her writings about Valerie Solanas, her days in Sister Spit, the HAGS, and the queer scene of the 90s. I'm glad that I spaced the essays out over time because reading them all at once got to be a little tedious. I recommend the essays about art in particular, and many of the other days remind me of my misspent youth.

  19. 4 out of 5

    rosamund

    A selection of essays on various themes, such as music, memoir writing, LGBT identity, fertility, etc. Some of these were very good: the opening one, particularly, on the subject of the author's own experience of sexual abuse, and her reading of Valerie Solanas. Some of them were interesting because of they discussed aspects of queer life in the US that were new to me. But overall, I found these essays repetitive, and that Tea's prose quickly becomes clunky and tiresome. A selection of essays on various themes, such as music, memoir writing, LGBT identity, fertility, etc. Some of these were very good: the opening one, particularly, on the subject of the author's own experience of sexual abuse, and her reading of Valerie Solanas. Some of them were interesting because of they discussed aspects of queer life in the US that were new to me. But overall, I found these essays repetitive, and that Tea's prose quickly becomes clunky and tiresome.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    Some funny and all thought-provoking. What else should an essay be?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Muffin

    I think Michelle Tea’s writing is terrific, and this book includes great personal essays and reporting on specific subcultures that I couldn’t get enough of. Thanks Lauren for sending this my way - I gotta read Valencia finally.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Big Al

    Worth reading for the HAGS!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Purchase-Trotter

    Highlights include ‘Minor Threat’, ‘Transmissions from Camp Trans’, ‘HAGS in your face’, ‘The City To A Young Girl’, ‘Pigeon Manifesto’, ‘Summer of Lost Jobs’... ok fine it was all nigh on perfect. Thanks Michelle 🥲

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    very excited to read more of michelle tea's essays, a person who i would really read anything she writes! (i also didn't read every essay here. i can read what i want to read and still enjoy the work etc....need to remind myself that!) very excited to read more of michelle tea's essays, a person who i would really read anything she writes! (i also didn't read every essay here. i can read what i want to read and still enjoy the work etc....need to remind myself that!)

  25. 5 out of 5

    cat

    Continuing my queer reading adventures for the month of June, I found Michelle Tea's book of essays. Most of these have been published previously on xojane and other sites - some as far back as the early 2000's. It was a book that I found hard to get into at first, and that the longer I read, the more I appreciated it for exactly what it is (instead of looking for it to be Rent Girl redux). As Katie Haegele writes on The Millions site, "Though this book shows how Tea’s work has developed from st Continuing my queer reading adventures for the month of June, I found Michelle Tea's book of essays. Most of these have been published previously on xojane and other sites - some as far back as the early 2000's. It was a book that I found hard to get into at first, and that the longer I read, the more I appreciated it for exactly what it is (instead of looking for it to be Rent Girl redux). As Katie Haegele writes on The Millions site, "Though this book shows how Tea’s work has developed from straightforward memoir to a more nuanced form of self-reflexive cultural critique, memoir makes up about a third of it. The section “Writing & Life” is composed of the kind of stories she’s best known for: outrageous yarns about things like the Sister Spit reading tours she ran in the ’90s and the lousy part-time jobs she worked one summer as a teenager. But interestingly, her writing about art—the ostensibly critical pieces—are among the strongest in the book. coverWhen she writes about Eileen Myles’s lesbian classic, Chelsea Girls, or about Andy Warhol’s would-be killer Valerie Solanas and her SCUM Manifesto with tenderness and understanding, the electricity almost leaps off the page. “The City to a Young Girl,” a complex and affecting piece about the Trump presidency, a poem written by a teenage girl, and Tea’s own girlhood, is probably the apotheosis of Tea’s development as a nonfiction writer." https://themillions.com/2018/06/memoi...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Barter

    I loved this. Michelle Tea is such a good writer. I don't think there's one disappointing piece in here. The memoir stuff is great - she's had an interesting life and is insightful about her experiences, and is also able to get out of her own way to tell a story. But the more journalistic pieces were my favourite, especially the essays on Camp Trans and HAGS, which are like proper bits of documentary history. Michelle Tea is very good at exploring the complicated politics of certain cultural mom I loved this. Michelle Tea is such a good writer. I don't think there's one disappointing piece in here. The memoir stuff is great - she's had an interesting life and is insightful about her experiences, and is also able to get out of her own way to tell a story. But the more journalistic pieces were my favourite, especially the essays on Camp Trans and HAGS, which are like proper bits of documentary history. Michelle Tea is very good at exploring the complicated politics of certain cultural moments in a really nuanced, non-judgey way. And her tone is warm and funny and intimate and really I just want her to be my friend now.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Georgina Bawden

    "I'm feeling it, the purpose and point of our political writings, our personal struggles. It's not to change the world that can't or won't be changed. It's to leave traces of ourselves for others to hold on to, a lifeline of solidarity that spans time, that passes on strength like a baton from person to person, generation to generation." That's Michelle Tea's justification for her lifetime of writing, across her lifetime, a span of which is collected here. I've loved her writing since coming acro "I'm feeling it, the purpose and point of our political writings, our personal struggles. It's not to change the world that can't or won't be changed. It's to leave traces of ourselves for others to hold on to, a lifeline of solidarity that spans time, that passes on strength like a baton from person to person, generation to generation." That's Michelle Tea's justification for her lifetime of writing, across her lifetime, a span of which is collected here. I've loved her writing since coming across her on XOJane and she is extremely readable in this collection. The peice on the HAGS in particular was a fascinating snapshot of a really specific bit of queer history. I love (and wholeheartedly agree with) her Pigeon Manifesto, and her exploration of the increasingly strained relationship between the L and the T was measured and compassionate, and an excellent companion to the Maggie Nelson I read immediately prior.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Michelle Tea really does have one of those inimitable voices, and this book, a collection of non-fiction writings on everything from riot grrl, queer communities and the trans-exclusionary policy that tanked the Michigan Womyn's Musical Festival to her own relationships and addiction issues fizzles with the energy that makes Michelle's writing hers and no one else's. Michelle Tea really does have one of those inimitable voices, and this book, a collection of non-fiction writings on everything from riot grrl, queer communities and the trans-exclusionary policy that tanked the Michigan Womyn's Musical Festival to her own relationships and addiction issues fizzles with the energy that makes Michelle's writing hers and no one else's.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lari

    honestly, thank god for michelle tea, thank god for queerness, thank god for mistakes, thank god for writing whether or not it's a mistake (it's usually not), thank god this book exists in all michelle's back-and-forth growth. honestly, thank god for michelle tea, thank god for queerness, thank god for mistakes, thank god for writing whether or not it's a mistake (it's usually not), thank god this book exists in all michelle's back-and-forth growth.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Paolantonio

    What an excellent collection of essays. Truth be told, I skipped over most of the first section 'Art & Music' either because the subject was so foreign to me it went in one ear and out the other or because I was bored by Tea's placement of herself onto something that's been done a thousand times before. The rest of the book was an extremely pleasant surprise. I picked up this book because of its title, expecting it to be a memoir. I'm glad it wasn't. These essays are smart and informative on the What an excellent collection of essays. Truth be told, I skipped over most of the first section 'Art & Music' either because the subject was so foreign to me it went in one ear and out the other or because I was bored by Tea's placement of herself onto something that's been done a thousand times before. The rest of the book was an extremely pleasant surprise. I picked up this book because of its title, expecting it to be a memoir. I'm glad it wasn't. These essays are smart and informative on the queer, feminist subcultures that are no more. Particularly the piece on Camp Trans, the HAGS of San Francisco, and The City To A Young Girl stuck with me most. (The latter reminds me of Jessica Valenti's memoir Sex Object--a book about what it's like growing up in a major city in a female body.) 95% of these essays, if not all of them, were published elsewhere. And because she is a normal, professional writer, Tea listed when and where these essays were previously published at the end of each. Bravo! The blurbs on the back of this book hail Tea as a genius, which I do not agree with. But I will say her writing is so fluid and clear, so concise and thought out. Every sentence read felt effortlessly written and I am inspired to keep at writing because Against Memoir is proof if you keep doing it, you're going to keep getting better. Tea references scribbling in notebooks all throughout her life. I've been doing the same and while I'm still at the beginning of my life and of my life as a writer, I am inspired to keep at it because I know I will only get better with age. So many surprises in her sentence structures and word choices. They made me light up inside. As for a collection on pieces of queer, feminist spaces, cultures, and individuals, this book is a must. Great writing, better storytelling, and inspiring life out the other side. So happy this is the first of the year for me. What a great start!

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