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Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms
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Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  43 reviews
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.
Published 2018 by The Feminist Press at the City University of New York
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Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sassafras Lowrey
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
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 ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: glbt
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
Big Al
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Worth reading for the HAGS!
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
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
Sarah Paolantonio
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Michelle Tea has been writing since she was child (this is humorously detailed in one of these essays) and is really good at it. This book is a collection of essays written over a period of about 15 years, ranging from not bad (Minor Threat) to great (Against Memoir, etc.). Tea's early books were memoirs or lightly-fictionalized memoirs (and some poetry): well-written stories of a well-observed life, told from a single perspective but with an obvious attempt at accuracy and honesty. Her recent w ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is my first Michelle Tea book, despite being aware of her important place in the queer literary canon. I really enjoyed this essay collection. The essays span from memoir to more journalistic pieces and I like that mix a lot. She's a great writer, able to pull off a lot of different things: heart-wrenchingly touching moments painted in lovely lyric sentences; short punchy paragraphs; hilarious anecdotes and musings. I love her brain. I'm also currently listening to Black Wave, and I'm getti ...more
Jessica Reuter
Michelle Tea has long been one of my favorite writers and perhaps she's my most beloved; I sink into her words, melt between the lines, am ravenous to devour anything she sends out into the ether. With that being said, I was absolutely spellbound by Against Memoir. It was the most perfect thing I could have read at this particular time in my life, and for that I am truly grateful. I sobbed ugly tears, heaved heavy sighs of understanding, laughed at the wit and insight with which all of her stori ...more
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yay! A new Michelle Tea book. Even though I had read some of these essays before on xoJane and other places, it was a treat to read them again and in context with the other pieces. I especially enjoyed her music criticism pieces, as I had never read any of them before and it was fun to picture high school Michelle listening to Sonic Youth in her teenage bedroom. The piece on Hags, the all-woman/genderqueer queer punk gang running around San Francisco in the 1990s, was the standout for me -- a th ...more
Emily Brown
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this collection of essays. I was lucky enough to see Tea read from it in Seattle a few weeks ago (she read from the piece "Polishness."). The essays are so captivating that I read most of the book in one day. I've long been a fan of Tea's work, especially her poetry and the novel Black Wave and spending a day soaking in her words was so lovely. Highlights include "Transmission from Camp Trans" about her time at the protest camp set up in response to the Michigan Womyn's Festival and its ...more
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, queer
Michelle Tea is not perfect, but her prose damn near is. This is a hard-packed, tight collection of gut-punch essays. There are a few blind spots (especially RACE) and some sentiments that rub the wrong way, but on the whole, this was a beautifully penned delight. Standouts include her analysis of the trans-exclusionary Michigan Women's Music Festival, the history of the San Francisco dyke gang the HAGS, the essays Hard Times and Pigeon Manifesto, her unflinching examination (and performance) of ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled upon the existence of Michelle Tea after reading a very brief article she’d written in an art magazine, I want to say it was Hyperallergenic. Her style grabbed me immediately and I went looking for something longer from her to read. I didn’t realize this was her newest book, or even one of many books she’d written when I ordered it, I just liked the description. This has been hands down, one of the best collections of essays I’ve ever read, possibly the best. Her writing is funny and ...more
Abby Howell
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Michelle Tea is know for her memoirs. None of which I have read. This book is a series of essays which, for me, were quite illuminating. I was busy raising kids in the 80's and 90's. Tea was busy raising hell in San Fransisco. The essays gave me insight into a world that I was basically unfamiliar with, but was very interested to read about. I am looking forward to now going back and reading her memoirs.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
I hate essay collections most of the time. And I hate memoirs more. But I still take time to visit with such books a few times a year. Growth and etc. I picked up this collection because it is Michelle Mother Fucking Tea. And damn if she didn’t make me regret “hating” this type of text. I only skimmed or skipped a few of the essays as I was really consumed by most. These are so playful and honest. Thought provoking in the least cliched way.
The Dude
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yes! Michelle Tea takes the memoir genre and makes it volatile and mesmerizing. I remember alot of the New York she describes and Ms. Tea does an awesome job resurrecting it and pinpointing what made it so unique. You had to be there to get it but you can get this book and enjoy the power of her writing.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Didnt like it - just basically a re-tread, printed versions of previous talks. Mostly meandering stories of drug/alcohol abuse- overall rather depressing and difficult to plod through. Definitely enjoyed her earlier works but this was a disappointment. Also felt jacket comments did not reflect content.
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite essays among this awesome collection were "How to Not Be a Queer Douchebag" and "How to Tell Your Friends You're Sober"--these told my story, which is always why I've read Michelle Tea. I started to include excerpts here, but even just from these essays, I want to quote almost the entire things, so I will just say, Read It.
May 16, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk
A pretentious nobody and their brain droppings.

> In my home there was no art and in my schooling there was no art [...]

says the author, thus Art is something state sanctioned and not something people might do. And so on. Dull.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve read most of Michelle Tea’s books, and this one is right up there with the very best. The Prince essay had me HOWLING. So much to relate to, from growing up working class New Englander, to being queer, to being a mom. She’s an inspiration, and manages to be funny & irreverent as well.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like Tea's longer pieces where she really delves into, say, a women's music festival in Michigan -- and a counter festival -- that becomes problematic. Her voice, her style, her perspective is always worth reading. I'm not as into the transcripts from speeches she's given, though.
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
It took me a minute to acclimate to this - a wonderful collection of memoir type short stories. Once I did that, I devoured it. Michelle Tea's the best.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Kind of all over the place, but Tea's writing is always entertaining. The essay about HAGS really stood out to me.
Carley Moore
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So smart and funny! I read it in a day! I read everything she writes and this is my latest favorite! I'm especially into the long essays on queer culture and San Francisco!
Anne McGrath
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Love her smart, funny, poignant, irreverent essays to death.
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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
“Coming of queer age in the 1990s, to love queers was to love damage. To love damage was a path to loving yourself. ...Queers do not come out of the minefield of homophobia without scars. We do not live through out families' rejection of us, our stunted life options, the violence we've faced, the ways in which we've violated ourselves for survival, our harmful coping mechanisms, our lifesaving delusions, the altered brain chemistry we have sustained as a result of this, the low income and survival states we've endured as a result of society's loathing, unharmed. Whatever of theses wounds I didn't experience firsthand, my lovers did, and so I say that, for a time, it was not possible to have queer love that was not ins some way damaged or defined by damage sustained, even as it desperately fought through that damage to access, hopefully, increasingly frequent moments of sustaining, lifesaving love, true love, and loyalty, and electric sex.” 2 likes
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