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Chelsea Girls

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,396 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
Available once again for a new generation of readers, the groundbreaking and candid coming-of-age novel in-real-time from one of America's most celebrated poets that is considered a cult classic.

In this breathtakingly inventive autobiographical novel, Eileen Myles transforms life into a work of art. Told in her audacious voice, made vivid and immediate in her lyrical langu
Paperback, 276 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by Black Sparrow Press (first published January 1st 1994)
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I really love lesbians. I'm not sure why this is. It's not that I love them all -- there are plenty of lousy lesbians out there -- but for some reason a person being a lesbian improves my chances of liking her by maybe a factor of five. I feel like lesbians often have a good perspective on things. Many are good at being self-aware without being self-absorbed. There might be something about being a lesbian that improves people's personalities, or maybe girls with good heads on their shoulders win ...more
Julie Christine
When I was seventeen, I had a mad crush on a musician who lived in my town. He was in his twenties and on the cusp of fame in the about-to-explode Pacific Northwest grunge scene of the late 1980s. Years later, I would flip through a scrapbook and find a poster from a concert held at a community center in town during the autumn I crushed on that man/boy. Well, would you just look at that: Fall 1986, Nirvana headlining the Hal Holmes Community Center. I'd forgotten about the concert, held in the s ...more
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"I lay on the bed, fascinated by the acrid taste of piss, yet horrified at the inadequacies
of my tape collection."
A quintessential strung-out '90s novel set in both NYC and Boston. The flat affect and stream-of-consciousness style are no doubt familiar to readers of Brett Easton Ellis and others, perhaps a bit too much so. Still, Myles is a quick wit and every ten or so pages she'll turn a phrase that just floors you.
Mary K
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read the greater part of this book on a plane ride home, next to a man who looked sponsored by real-tree. His phone's background was a picture of his toddler son on top of his tractor. After he started white-knuckling the communal armrests, it became pretty obvious that this earth-oriented man was terrified of flying. Poor guy. During the flight's turbulence, he became desperate for a conversation partner. We chatted--he showed me more pictures of cars with babies on top of them--and eventuall ...more
It was okay, but not especially great. I expected more from it and well that's usually an ez-pass lane to disappointment.
Nov 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer, memoir
i think if i would re-read this collection of memoir-esque vignettes by Eileen Myles, i would probably read one a week, out of order until i was finished. Then each one would stand on its own and be able to to savored or scorned by its own merits. Unfortunately, i read it pretty much cover to cover (well, almost, couldn't quite finish it) and honestly became quite bored with it. At times brutal, hilarious, fierce, blase, superficial, a well of unending sadness, these glimpses of life, of lives, ...more
Merritt K
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Myles' abrupt sentences and meandering narrative structures might not be for everyone, but I really feel like this book is an essential part of lesbian history. Any gay woman who picks it up will probably see at least part of her life reflected in it in clearer terms than she could articulate herself.
Jun 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
i really couldn't get through the first few pages. her style is okay, kind of the rambly prose that i appreciate once in a while. i guess there was just no personality there to charm me into keeping on. i even flipped to the middle of the book before i gave up to see if it was different but it was still just drugs. women. blah blah.
Andy Bird
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
A great memoir through stories, it veers between sex and drugs in the 70s and 80s and her childhood with an alcoholic father. Very well done.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of those wonderful occasions when the right book falls into my hands at the very right time. I devoured every word, sentence, comma, everything. Lust for life and all.

"I had willed that I really was not still in love with Chris, I had decided to be a dispassionate viewer, it would be a pleasure not to care. What if I didn’t know what I felt anymore? I probably had never known what I felt. I only liked getting drunk and being in love. If I wasn’t either one of those things, I simply needed m
Johan Thilander
Detta kommer bli en ganska negativ recension, men tycker inte fördenskull att detta var en alltigenom dålig bok. Snarare så är det nog inte en bok för mig.

1) Stilen som siktar på att vara en slags delirisk monolog känns mer som ett rabblande från en galning på pendeltåget: "She was so fucking ugly, skinny, scabs all over her legs, her eyes were like this, like a rabbit".

2) Den sortens dekatenta livsstil som boken beskriver tilltalar mig inte överhuvudtaget. Jag har t.ex. tidigare hatat allt som
Larry-bob Roberts
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer
Finally read the book. A series of short autobiographical pieces. I wasn't getting into it too much at first, but eventually something clicked and I got into it. I guess I didn't know what I was getting into but once I realized not to expect plot but rather narrative. This looks to be a big influence on the Sister Spit generation of confessional lesbian narrative. Like a lot of writers who are now sober, there are a lot of pieces about when she was drinking and using; do people's lives become le ...more
Cortney Cassidy
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
her personal story is lots of girls and lots of beer and lots of drugs but ultimately just about every woman's story is about being a participant in a society that has no problem with men ganging up with their friends to take turns raping an unconscious girl.
Aug 13, 2008 is currently reading it
shit. this book was stolen from me at the beach! and i was borrowing it! and it is out of print...i had to order it online. still waiting as i ordered myself a copy, a piece of herstory.
Dec 04, 2015 rated it liked it
More like a 3.5
Dec 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Having read this, I now understand why Eileen Myles looks like a graduate of the Keith Richards School of Survival.
Mar 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: katrina
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sometimes a challenge but mostly a joy to read, Myles's prose mostly captivates me. Favorite passages:
"I thought I had lived in a world of darkness and confusion and I was the single, glowing and true thing. I sought only the companions who would confirm this interpretation of the mystery that shrouded my life. (...) I have waited all my life for permission. I feel it growing in my breast. A war is storming and it is behind me and I am moving my forces into light."

"I couldn't stop talking about
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
"i was down in falmouth, getting drunk and weeping nightly, picking up more and more men in sports cars. my sadness only made me more intriguing. i could have gotten married about 10 times in 1969 if that's what i wanted to do. i didn't know what i wanted to do. i wanted to finish crime and punishment."

i don't really know what this book is. on the cover it says it's a novel, but i bought it in the biography/memoir section of the bookstore, and it really reads sort of like a prose poem or a strea
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Wow, this was such a surprise. I read the first two chapters really not following or getting much into the book, but by the third or fourth chapter, something just clicked for me about this, and I suddenly loved the whole thing. The style is disjointed and quick, hopping from topic to topic, from memory to memory. It's fragmented. I love how much time Myles spends talking about clothes and the various ways dressing oneself is important to personhood. I love the way she talks about discovering he ...more
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it
At its best this book is delightful: "I myself was a good-natured cloud, which would float by and steal things, and wait for praise."

It was a view into a period in NYC and lifestyles that aren't familiar to me, which I appreciated reading about. But the failure and the drugs and the sex and the sadness just ran together after a while. It dragged on too long in the same vein. I'd certainly recommend reading at least a couple chapters (they're short) to get the feel of it.

PS I hope Eileen got over
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Two stars. Reading this book increasingly became a chore as it wore on. I don't think it should be billed as a 'novel'. It is much more consistent with a collection of short stories which aren't really stories so much as they are long-form poems. Although the stories have plenty of alcohol, drugs and sex, I found them kind of boring. Her style is frenetic and disjointed and it was hard to follow the narrative at times. I did enjoy some of the more poetic passages and I will look to read some of ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
Although I self-identify as a lesbian, a queer, and sex-positive, this book contained too many drug, tobacco, and alcohol references for my taste. I'm bummed because this is apparently considered a queer classic and Eileen is such an awesome poet. I think I'm probably too much of a "normie" to properly appreciate the ecstasies of substance abuse. I stopped reading after the first three chapters.
Sean Fitch
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Wanted to love it. Only liked it. Some stories were fantastic and others just felt too abstracted for me to fully engage. But I also don't like a lot of poetic and lyrical styles, so that's not surprising. I felt lost a few times, trying to connect an arching narrative across the disparate glimpses into her mind.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
"I forgot Ted, the job, that I was merely buying pills, blue pills for 35 dollars and selling them for 100 and getting drunk on the profit one night. I forgot that and this is what my trip was all about. Go someplace out of your life, come back new, bring it around and make a little money. Clean your apartment. Write some."

-Eileen Myles, 'Merry Christmas, Dr Beagle'.
Feb 17, 2017 rated it liked it
There was a point in this book where I got really angry. The author was broke and hungry, and the electricity was about to be turned off. A last minute payment arrived so she went and bought cigarettes and beer. Cigarettes and beer! Why didn't she go straight to the deli?!- I judged from afar. Then other parts of the book were poignant and touching, so my feelings oscillated. 3.5
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like a roller coaster ride. The beginning, the ending, everything, it's a mess, a brilliant mess. I have thoroughly enjoyed the company of this book, and it even taught me a thing or two about myself. This will be the beginning of many other Eileen Myles books to read.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing but hard to follow

This is not a conventional book in terms of writing style. The story is interesting enough but the run-on sentences and wobbly narrative leave a lot to be desired. I liked it enough to finish it.
Dylan Leahy
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I always think it's such a secret story, this one, I just need to tell this story or else I will burst. It's lonely to be alive and never know the whole story. Everyone must walk with that thought. I would like to tell everything, just my part, because this is my life, not yours."
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Around the Year i...: Chelsea Girls, by Eileen Myles 1 14 Aug 29, 2016 10:23AM  
  • The Chelsea Whistle
  • The End of San Francisco
  • Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme
  • Godspeed
  • Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970
  • My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home
  • Deviant Propulsion
  • Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home
  • The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader
  • Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America
  • Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black
  • Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions
  • Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950's
  • Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures
  • Pills, Thrills, Chills, and Heartache: Adventures in the First Person
  • Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels
  • Holding Still For As Long As Possible
Eileen Myles is probably America's best-known unofficial poet. Her latest book is Sorry, Tree in which she describes “some nature” as well as the transmigration of souls from the east coast to the west. Bust Magazine calls Myles "the rock star of modern poetry" and Holland Cotter in The New York Times describes her as "a cult figure to a generation of post-punk females forming their own literary a ...more
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“If there is something I will always carry in my heart it is this earnest unwillingness to be part of the bunch,” 3 likes
“If boys were always trying to get in girls’ pants, what did they want? What could the girls give them? Pee it seemed to me was an appropriate gift.” 2 likes
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