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Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties
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Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  218 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
A striking debut novel in the tradition of Michelle Tea and Sarah Schulman, Trace Elements spins a crazy and beautiful narrative that turns tradition on its head while laying flowers at its feet.

Leticia Marisol Estrella Torrez, a university honors graduate, moves north to Los Angeles in an attempt to break from the traditional grandmother who raised her and from Weeping Wo
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 26th 2004 by Seal Press (first published September 8th 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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Kristen Hovet
Oct 18, 2011 Kristen Hovet rated it liked it
The writing style is cute at first, and by mid-point gets a bit bothersome. A cute story, but nothing special. My favourite parts had to do with gender...about being a woman who feels herself to be not quite feminine and not quite masculine, but somewhere wavering in between. With that I can relate.

The use of the Weeping Woman myth is intriguing, but not adequately woven into the story. It mainly just causes confusion.

By the end, I didn't feel much of anything for the main character, or for any
Overall, the book was good but could have been grating if it went on any longer. This applies to the distinctive and compelling narrative voice, the lives of the protagonist and her string of relationships that don't quite work, and the whole "post-hipster queer" lifestyle which I'm not quite sure what it means, but reads like an urban twenty-something navel gazing about not having made it yet.
Katie M.
Feb 21, 2011 Katie M. rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer, 2011
Sadly, this one fell far short of my expectations - it all goes downhill from the catchy title and the cute girl on the cover. The story itself was okay even if it didn't have an original bone in its body, but I just completely wasn't feeling Lemus' writing style. Oh well.
Apr 10, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Sarah by: ErinG
i love this book. love love love love love. i've been looking forever for someone barbara kingsolver/julia alvarez-ish who writes about queer themes and this book is rockin it. it's so lyrically, poetically written and no one cuts themselves or fucks someone anonymously in a bathroom. gorgeous.
Jan 02, 2011 Drianne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, lesbian, fiction
I had high hopes of this book, but it didn't really live up to them. I hate to say, honestly, I enjoyed the LA lesbians of The L Word more. Some interesting language, but it pushed too hard with its central use of the myth of Weeping Woman, and the writing was often overdone.
Apr 12, 2015 kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
this woman breaks language open. a perfect antidote to all five hundred versions of that one michelle tea book.
Oct 17, 2016 Abby added it
I should not have finished this book in public. But, on second thought, I think it would please Felicia Luna Lemus that I spent the final third of her novel weeping openly in a chain fresh Mex restaurant. It seems bizarrely fitting.

I would call this a classical love story, as my professor once outlined it: "Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again." But Trace Elements is more: girl meets girl, girl gets girl, what is a girl anyway, girl loses girl, girl's grandma dies,
Sadie Forsythe
Aug 05, 2016 Sadie Forsythe rated it liked it
This had a rough start—the language being overly styled and familiar, characters popping up without introductions, their pronouns being muddled before the reader learns that several are gender-nonconforming, etc. But eventually it smooths out and the book becomes much more readable.

There are some interesting discussions on language, identity and LGBT+ politics here. Set in what I assume was the late 80s or maybe early 90s (cassette tapes were featured) Leti navigates her own identity as a dyke,
Sep 18, 2007 Evan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to read unique styles
This book is about a dyke princess that lives in L.A. and her lovers and friends and ex lovers who become friends and her grandmother whose she left behind in a way so that she can explore her life away from the city she was raised in. She's haunted by a childhood character called Weeping Woman who follows her throughout her life.

I started reading this book and put it down and came back to it when I was brave enough. It wasn't an easy read. The way Lemus uses language and the way she forms her s
May 09, 2010 Kylie rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt
Instead of the classic 'Coming of Age' story, I'd put this in a 'Coming of Gender' category which I have now just invented.

It was a nice read, but the writing style was a litter jerky for me. Around the middle things started to get slow so it was bit of a push to get through it and the ending was a little lacking in power.
Nov 06, 2007 ash rated it it was ok
this book was alright... if there were 2 and 1/2 stars i would have given it that. i like it.. but her writing style is at times tiresome. It was nice to read queer lit and her characters were charming...but i wanted more-especially considering all the press she has received. Maybe I should have started with her second book.
Feb 18, 2008 Witchabilly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Eh. I wanted to like this more, but the writing style was too distracting for me to be able to even notice the lovely metaphors that my friends say are tucked in there. I just can't deal with five adjectives in front of everything, and all the made-up words. It just makes me feel so snarly irritated irritable angrymush.
Feb 01, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: homocontent
I read this before I was fully out to myself (fascinating how all these gay books just seemed to hop off the shelves and into my eager hands!), and was fascinated with the complex set of friend/love/sexual relationships the group of main characters have with one another. I'd like to reread it now; I suspect all of it would seem a lot more familiar at this point.
I used this book in a class I taught once about queer media studies, and one of my students said "At first, I didn't care, because it's about women, and then I realized that the author does amazing things with language."

And there you have it.

She wrote another book which is also good, but I liked this one better.
Nov 05, 2008 Bridget rated it really liked it
"I've looked up at clouds before and wanted to take a bite out of them. Not out of some nauseating cute appreciation for their soft purity, but to consume their thick bitter dense smog into my body before it evaporates into something that will disappear from my sight. The latte Rob bought for me that day tasted like a cloud." -44
Joey Diamond
May 18, 2011 Joey Diamond rated it it was ok
Shelves: queerdo, fiction, deep-lez
Sometimes this touched on little characterisations, snippets of romance or place that worked so well I would get sucked in..
but mostly the overall romance, ghosty haunting mystical device didn't work for me at all.
It seemed to be trying just a little too hard.
Oct 03, 2007 Kathy rated it liked it
I am clearly not "post-hipster queer" or whatever the book jacket blurb said this book was about. But it was still fun. A little bit magical, a little bit post-modern, and, indeed, a little bit post-hipster queer. Not for everyone, for sure.
Feb 04, 2008 Satia rated it liked it
I wrote a complete review here:

I would definitely recommend this novel as a very good debut novel and I do look forward to reading more from the author.
Aug 25, 2009 Erica rated it liked it
Shelves: queer
This book is written with a strong, unique voice and it helped fulfill my goal of reading more queer literature this year, but I think my favorite thing about it was the title.
Feb 05, 2015 Chan rated it did not like it
I had a real hard time reading this book due to the graphic nature of how Leticia was treated and what she went through.
Jun 01, 2013 Andrea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hated it. Took me months to finish and at the end I felt it wasn't worth it. *Like Son* is sooooo much better and starkly different.
Jan 14, 2008 Strawfoot rated it liked it
Uneven but sometimes charming love story...Her second book displayed a great deal of growth beyond the obvious.
Charity rated it liked it
Jul 26, 2012
Amanda Post
Amanda Post rated it liked it
Mar 04, 2014
Sweetshortz rated it really liked it
Sep 25, 2010
mimi rated it really liked it
Jan 22, 2008
Skye rated it liked it
May 14, 2013
Morgandonor rated it liked it
Nov 08, 2015
Ben rated it did not like it
Feb 02, 2016
Karmen rated it liked it
Jun 11, 2015
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“When K & I returned to the gingerbread house after taking Nana home, I was beyond exhausted. But I couldn't sleep, not for a long time. I stayed awake. Thinking of boys, of myself, & of all the intersections in between.
Regardless, there were times when I was at least part boy. A femme boy deep down. Shy sweater fag, my cardigan on hand to comfort me in the cold world. Bookworm queer boy at heart, K told me on more than one occasion. Certain moods & I was the most enviable of drag princesses, eyelashes all a-flutter & my fingers tickling the air with each gesture. Sometimes I was full of flirtatious swagger, but that playful swag could turn fierce snarl for defense, if need be. Never, I promised myself one line I wouldn't cross, never would I be the mean kind of boy that laughed me back inside the store's red doors when I did no good at hot afternoon sour pissing contests. Of course, there were plenty of times I was such a fairy lady that I ceased to be even part boy.

Yes, Rob would have accused me of bringing the communal growl down for saying I'm part boy. And pre-Stonewall dykes would have wanted to call my game. What kind of dyke was I, anyway? Good question. Simple & complicated all at once, I wasn't a pigeon to be tucked away neatly into a hole. I didn't wear a fixed category without feeling pain. I was more, or less, or something different entirely.”
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