Sean Meriwether's Reviews > Black Wave

Black Wave by Michelle Tea
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really liked it
bookshelves: lgtbq, addiction

Tea’s autobiographical novel is divided into two sections which are as different in style as they are in setting. In the first half she captures a moment of gentrification in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood as her artistic set, who had replaced poor immigrants, are themselves priced out of their neighborhood by the tech sector. Her story relies on her own experience, living life as an "outlaw" lesbian, hypercritically aware of her marginalized world shrinking around them, and her struggles to write a second book as she indulges in a blossoming addiction to heroin. Tea shares intimate details of her life, her helplessness, and her crushes on rebellious, smart, and intoxicated young women. She vividly captures a snapshot of an artistic community that many cities have lost due to the high cost of living.

The second half of the novel is set in Los Angeles, which is influenced by the mythology of Hollywood and star sightings. Isolated from her community she tries to write about her experiences without hurting anyone’s feelings, a genuine issue for someone who specializes in memoir. Her challenge to be honest or revise her truth, while indulging in copious amounts of alcohol, fades away when she learns that the world is about to end. With nothing left to lose, she looks inward to define her last days and finds fulfillment in a bookstore she inherits. This section is filled with chaos and dreams, suicide and hope, and finally self-acceptance. Tea documents the days leading up to the end of the world, driven by man-made climate change, and is reminiscent of the national gestalt following 9/11, while simultaneously feeling like it is only the fictional characters (inspired by real people) who are facing their end as the reader finishes her novel and closes the book.

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Reading Progress

January 15, 2021 – Started Reading
January 15, 2021 – Shelved
February 1, 2021 – Shelved as: lgtbq
February 2, 2021 – Shelved as: addiction
February 2, 2021 – Finished Reading

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