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Valencia

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  4,363 Ratings  ·  265 Reviews
Valencia is the fast-paced account of one girl's search for love and high times in the drama-filled dyke world of San Francisco's Mission District. Michelle Tea records a year lived in a world of girls: there's knife-wielding Marta, who introduces Michelle to a new world of radical sex; Willa, Michelle's tormented poet-girlfriend; Iris, the beautiful boy-dyke who ran away ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by Seal Press (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aradia V
Feb 02, 2008 Aradia V rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book saved my life. I was literally in bed so depressed that I was planning on ending it. Dramatic yes, but very true. Someone had given me the book; I picked it up and couldn't put it down. She was tortured, but exciting..and honestly in my mental state I didn't even notice how messed up she might be.lol After finishing, I decided that I wanted a life worth writing about! I got out of bed, came out as femme and started having my own amazing adventures.
I can't say it will have the same pro
...more
Nicole
Dec 01, 2007 Nicole rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's probably wrong to review a book after only 50 or so pages. But god, this book is annoying as hell. as a "queer urban girl" from san francisco, Michelle embarasses me, as she rambles long run-on sentence paragraphs about her tragically hip dyke "radical" friends who are so bad, so sad, they cut themselves and fuck on the dance floor and have stupid names like Tricky and Spacegirl. Her world consists of"Punks", as defined by their clothes, hair and tattoos, who move here and treat the city li ...more
Patrick
Oct 17, 2008 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
This is a memoir of a 25-year-old lesbian in '90s San Francisco documenting her times drinking, not working, and having a lot of latex-gloved sex with various girls. It's plotlessness really worked for me, and I figured out it was because Tea is completely honest as an autobiographer. This became apparent when I was planning on thinking she was pretentious, and that never coming to be. I assumed she was going to try and make herself sound really hip, being a counterculture woman swinging in one ...more
Heather
Jan 27, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Sure, I'm biased because I'm from SF and worked alongside Ms. Tea at Books, Inc. where she hosted crazy book readings with hard liquor. Sure, I'm biased because I was never part of that scene, but secretly envied it. Reading the book, however, I didn't feel a bit of envy. I just enjoyed the scenes from afar. Sure it's from the era of the 90's, and therefore dated; sure, it's about lesbian sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, as well as the famous Folsom Street Fair in SF, fisting, and ...more
Jason Pettus
Jun 22, 2007 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
san francisco's michelle tea is the most vital writer of her generation, one of the few people from our era they'll still be studying 100 years from now, and in valencia she is at the absolute top of her game. dirty, shocking, subversive, with an embracing of a complex sexuality and lifestyle that needs no apologies, tea's work has a good chance of permanently changing your life after being exposed to it or at least getting you looking at the "war of the sexes" in an entirely new way. highly rec ...more
g
Aug 07, 2007 g rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: radical dykes; those who once were radical dykes; people who need an education in radical dykes.
i thought this book was fucking amazing amazing amazing. i could not stop reading it and read it really really fast, everywhere. on the subway. in my bedroom. on lunch break from work. the writing is real and interesting and a bit stream of conscience-y, but i truly got into it because a young crazy radical michelle tea is a narrator i can easily identify with. ok--so i never went to the dyke march high on speed--but i definitely had the "FUCK SHIT UP!" period of my life where my crazy in-love m ...more
Kirsten
Oct 28, 2011 Kirsten rated it liked it
I keep trying to read Michelle Tea's books because she is our local lesbian celebrity, but I find her books a little heavy and over-the-top. But I'm weirdly fascinated with reading them, too. Kind of like driving by a train wreck and not being able to avert your eyes. I feel the same way about some Joyce Carol Oats books. Someone described JCO's writing as grotesque once, and that's a good word to describe Valencia, too. I mean, how many freaky, unstable 20-something lesbians are there, having s ...more
emily
Oct 02, 2008 emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to emily by: lindsay intersimone
"so the planet of me completed its revolution around the heart..."

"we will drink cocktails so sweet they pucker our mouths, and we will run through the streets in excellent danger."

this book took my breath away, and not just because it was one of the first novels i've ever read that was about dyke culture without being trashy. oh sure, michelle tells a seedy story full of drugs and booze and sex, but what she's mostly telling the reader about is her heart. like Annie On My Mind, -valencia- is a
...more
Leah
May 12, 2012 Leah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book does a great job of articulating everything I hate about belonging to such a specific subculture. The first half of the book was slow for me, and I have a knee jerk disapproval of people who claim a working class background but are as irresponsible and treat work with the abandon that Tea does. And while this book isn't all about drugs and alcohol, it is enough about drugs and alcohol to bore the hell out of me. Halfway into the book, though, it does have a shining clump of chapters, b ...more
Jaye
Jun 27, 2007 Jaye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michelle Tea signed my copy "Nice to see you again" so there is no way I will swap this book. Sitting in my back yard in the Mission, a stone's throw from most of the places described in the book, helped flesh out the events she described but nonetheless, I think it would be a good read anywhere. I guess in the vein of Annais Nin and other writers who are explicit about their romantic life, this book it top notch. Tea doesn't try to flatter herself and rather explores some unflattering experienc ...more
Bob Koelle
Mar 07, 2013 Bob Koelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Michelle Tea is one annoying lesbian" said a friend. I can believe that, but she writes really well. This book is about nothing, except the day to day wanderings of over-dramatic women with zero responsibilities, except to their own feelings. There's no plot, and the book could have ended anywhere. Indeed by the end, I was growing tired of this girlfriend and that drunken evening. It's all just passages, but at her best, the passages read like Ellis or McInerney. One example: "Oh, I wanted her ...more
Beki
Sep 04, 2008 Beki rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Michelle Tea irritates the crap out of me. Sorry.
Robin
Mar 10, 2011 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reread, queer
I read Valencia when it first came out about ten years ago and I HATED it. Words could not express my loathing for this book. I thought it was self-involved, pretentious, obnoxious, terribly written, and completely lacking in both plot and character development. I found a copy at a thrift store last week and decided to reread it and see if my opinion had changed. I didn't expect that it would; however, I was surprised to find that I kind of like it. Not entirely, but kind of.



It's still lacking i
...more
Julia
Nov 15, 2008 Julia rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, feministy
I first read Valencia for one of Susan Fraiman's brilliant seminars (I think Contemporary Women's Texts?) during the spring of my first year of college. Michelle Tea was my first introduction to real lesbian fiction, and she absolutely excels in channeling the frenetic pulse of the girl scene in San Francisco circa the early 90s. Her memoir/fiction (the lines are blurred) zings with the unbound energy of the idealistic, and when she's heartbroken, she's heartbroken to a degree I think only the y ...more
JSA Lowe
Jan 09, 2012 JSA Lowe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book stole my heart completely. Comparisons to Francesca Lia Block are inevitable—only, you know, if Weetz were writing a memoir about being a lesbian sex worker and crystal meth user in San Francisco in the eighties. But the same exuberant love and detailing of a specific place/time/clan, and the attention is lavish and beautiful and so, so, so heartbreakingly young. Also I kept wanting to quote passages to you guys every few pages, mostly about breakups but also just these hilarious littl ...more
Patrick O'Neil
Sep 29, 2010 Patrick O'Neil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Halfway through Valencia I somehow misplaced it. I don't know where it went, but my read got totally interrupted. In a fit of "socialism" I hit the local library and grabbed their dog-eared copy. It was well used and slightly beat up, the corners chewed, pages sticky, with scribbly notes in the margin. Looked like every lesbian teenager from here to Venice had already had it in their sweaty palms. And who could blame them. It'd be like reading an anthem – like me twenty-five years ago reading Bu ...more
I. Merey
Mar 30, 2015 I. Merey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: girl-on-girl, 2015
6 stars for writing
2 stars for painful, embarrassing identification with main character

This is the type of book I adored when I was younger. What am I saying, I still love these books. And it is written by a younger person (or at least recounting the tales of a younger person, not sure how old Tea herself was when she wrote it) so that's all well. The book propels on the trajectory of great Beat writing, chaotic and going nowhere and everywhere at once; the narrator and the prose having no respo
...more
Sarah
Apr 19, 2007 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminista
This is an awesome hour-and-a-half read that allows me to indulge in my funky/punky/bad side a little. It's a little bit pornographic (ok, a lot bit) so if that makes you uncomfortable I'd maybe shy away, but there is plenty of beauty in between those parts. It's a pro-sex lesbian in San Francisco discovering her self and her sexual identity through the sub culture she is immersed in. She's not perfect and she doesn't try to make herself look good- so she's pretty easy to relate to.
Nicola
Mar 04, 2013 Nicola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lgbt, recommended
If the definition of a successful novel is one that instantly whisks you away to a different time and place, then Valencia is a highly successful novel.

It takes Michelle Tea less than a page to plunge the reader into her gritty, exuberant version of San Francisco. Tea’s stories – of unsettling sexual experiences, of bad jobs, of drug-induced adventures, of being poor-but-happy in a city you love – will be familiar to most twentysomethings. Yet the narrative is so raw and emotional that the usual
...more
Claire
Jan 22, 2014 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq-etc
A sad, meandering account of the author's many girlfriends and friendships while living in the dyke community of San Francisco's Mission district. The writing style comes across very stream-of-consciousness, floating around in time and going back to some things over and over. It's not very organized, but also not difficult to follow.
Characters seem to appear out of nowhere, already Michelle's friends, which disappointed me a little because I was interested in how she had met all these people in
...more
Renee
Jul 13, 2009 Renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was pretty okay. Sara M. loaned it to me on the fly (hey, Sara, give me some books to read!) and said it was your basically predictable SF lesbian writing, which it was, but that it would be a decent throw-away pool read, which it also was. That's not a dis to Michelle Tea or anything--unlike many books I've read recently, at least some interesting stuff happens in here--but when you're from the Bay Area proper this type of writing fails to maintain the edgy feel it might have for a reader ...more
Caitlin
The first half of the book was pretty difficult to get through, although now I think that was all apart of some necessary character development and that I was supposed to feel annoyed with the tings of insecurity and immaturity coming from the narrator. All in all, by the end of the book, I felt like there was a very genuine chunk of a "Coming of Age: Part II" in there that was gross, exciting, dangerous, and real. You know, the early twenties shit where you're supposed to already be grown up bu ...more
Holly
Aug 27, 2015 Holly marked it as not-finished  ·  review of another edition
This has gotten so goddamn annoying that I, a goal-oriented reader 150/250 pages in, am actually not going to finish it.

When I started it, I was enjoying it and it even made me laugh out loud a couple times. It quickly became very repetitive (drunken wanderings, sexual drama, intermittent drug trips, all with that flavor of "this must feel so interesting and gritty for her to talk about but it's so boring to listen to") but I decided to keep reading it because it's such an extremely local piece
...more
Lucy
Mar 27, 2012 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
San Francisco is one of my favourite cities and going there was my favourite holiday ever. A girl staying in my hostel room was reading this, and it intrigued me, so I ordered it off Amazon when I returned.

I loved reading about the Mission District- this was my favourite part of SF. Of course, I can't really relate to the radical households, sex work, drugs etc. But it made me hugely nostalgic for the city nevertheless, because it's so poetic, evocative, emotional and honest.

There's not much of
...more
Brittany
Aug 12, 2013 Brittany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brittany by: autostraddle
Shelves: fiertes
4.5 Stars.

It took me over a month to read this. The book didn't deserve that, both being drawn out so unfairly and stealing so much of my attention. I feel to love Michelle because of her honesty in potraying the less glamorous side of queer adulthood (no Helena Peabody's here). There is a large section of the book written about doing Speed and she mentions not remembering those three days. As a writer, I suspect she keeps a journal, and I can just imagine her researching her own life in it to w
...more
Jodi
I wanted to like this book, I really did, because it was sent to me as a random act of kindness. WARNING: BOOK SPOILER.

The reasons I didn't are myriad: (1) I couldn't stand the primary character. Her way of living and using people just disgusted me (NOT because she's lesbian, though). (2) The book felt like it was just a series of accounts of her relationships with very little substance either in the relationships or to connect the accounts. (3) The author's style of sentencing and forming para
...more
Audrey
Such a trip. I feel like I just read about every girl I ever knew in Sacramento and the Bay Area.

The worst thing about depression is how true your vision seems, like misery is the only correct perspective and everything you think when you're happy is a sham. I didn't even want to be happy anymore because I'd rather live in honest misery than fake bliss. I cried openly through the throngs of cheerful lesbians and boys with neat haircuts and why does everyone in the Castro look so fucking healthy
...more
Sasa
Nov 06, 2013 Sasa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, lgbt, memoir
I'm still high and drunk from the craziness of Valencia. I read it in one sittingN which is probably not a good thing. All i could think about is it must be so nice to be that irresponsible and have an exciting life. Also made me wonder with all the sleeping around if anyone ended up getting an sti. It's the first book I've read that mentioned gloves so i was happy about that. I like the narrative style. I'm not sure if I want to read any of her books again though. But i like how random, insecur ...more
Zaz
Dec 25, 2007 Zaz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dyke-fiction
A reappropriation of the beat writers heritage by a queer writer ... vibrant book ! it's full of energy and craziness. Makes me think of Bowie's song " Rebel, Rebel" :

You've got your mother in a whirl cause she's
Not sure if you're a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hair's alright
Hey babe, let's stay out tonight
You like me, and I like it all
We like dancing and we look divine
You love bands when they're playing hard
You want more and you want it fast
They put you down, they say I'm wrong
You tacky thing, y
...more
Maximilian Wolf
Jul 29, 2010 Maximilian Wolf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic, must read. Tea gets it down, the Valencia Street punk dyke riot grrl nineties, drinking, fisting and fighting. Fun and she brings you right into the eyes and minds of her characters. Intimate and up close portal to some crazy dyke times on a now hipster playground in San Francisco. This was when it was still a bit more rough around the edges on Valencia, pre dotcom. It still feels contemporary even as this particular version of Valencia is lost to history. Read it!
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Michelle Tea (born Michelle Tomasik) is an American author, poet, and literary arts organizer whose autobiographical works explore queer culture, feminism, race, class, prostitution, and other topics. She is originally from Chelsea, Massachusetts and currently lives in San Francisco. Her books, mostly memoirs, are known for their views into the queercore community. In 2012 Tea partnered with City ...more
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“Gwynn, she was always talking about wanting to be drunk and honestly I did want to encourage that, I wanted to go to a bar with her and let all the stuff sobriety pushed down be released so I could catch it in my palms and finally kiss her. She was just so sad. Melancholy was a fleshy wave permanently cresting on her face, she had to speak through it when she talked.” 18 likes
“She didn’t know that my heart was a sandstorm waiting to open her skin in a desert of cuts. She didn’t know the animal that waited in my stomach, silently shredding the walls. For her, my heart wore small white shoes and carried a purse, went to bed early. I wanted to shoot myself into her arms so she understood the need to crash cars with me, to tear up pavement because we were beautiful.” 16 likes
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