Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms
The razor-sharp but damaged Valerie Solanas, a doomed lesbian biker gang, recovering alcoholics, and teenagers barely surviving at an ice creamery: these are some of the larger-than-life,yet all-too-human figures, populating America’s fringes. Rife with never-ending fights and failures, theirs are the stories we too often try to forget. But in the process of excavating and documenting these lives, Michelle Tea also reveals herself in unexpected and heartbreaking ways.
Delivered with her signature honesty and dark humor, Tea blurs the line between telling other people’s stories and her own. She turns an investigative eye to the genre that’s nurtured her entire career—memoir—and considers the extent to which art preys on life.
Shortlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
"Eclectic and wide-ranging. . . . A palpable pain animates many of these essays, as well as a raucous joy and bright curiosity." —The New York Times
"Gorgeously punk-rock rebellious." —The A.V. Club
"The best essay collection I've read in years." —The New Republic
"Michelle Tea's is a singular voice — brilliant but also irreverent, optimistic but also abrasive, as curious as it is critical. . . . Reading Tea can feel like conversing with your smartest friend, and it's one of those hangouts you never want to end." —Buzzfeed
"Bristles with life and a fierce intellect." —The Millions
“An entrancing collection of irreverent and flamboyant essays.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Rich with deep feeling and critical precision.” —Shelf Awareness
“Queer counterculture beats loud and proud in Tea’s stellar collection.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“An essential work.” —Booklist (starred)
"Against Memoir is a must-read for hopeless romantics and anyone passionate about life." —BUST
“A thrill to read, and an essential look into lives too often relegated to the margins of literature, instead of where they belong: front and center.” —Nylon
"Tea’s conversational tone and her way of writing deeply personal experience appeal to a certain universal that is also countercultural, subversive, and presents a very necessary counter-narrative to mainstream histories of American punk, feminism, and sexual identity." —The Brooklyn Rail
"Tea’s writing continues to make the world worth living in." —Lambda Literary Review
"A thoughtfully curated showcase of Tea’s writing about queer politics, relationships, history, and the self." —4Columns
“From its opening sentence to its finish, Michelle Tea’s Against Memoir is a bracing, heaven-sent tonic for deeply troubled times. Its clarity, hilarity, range, nonchalant brilliance, and decades of experience in ‘art and music, love and queerness, writing and life’ remind me over and over again of the adventure, the party of it all—the joy of raucous thinking and loving and making—that’s fundamentally ours.” —Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
"The essays in Against Memoir remind us how pleasure, pain, wisdom, and delight come from the ground up, by and through the body, and in this case, a body unapologetically firing all her desires, pleasures, fears, and dreams like lightning. A hardcore delight, a queer blood song picking the scab off the skin of culture.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
"These essays blow my mind with their algebraic rhythms by which Michelle Tea manages pain and bliss. They take turns erupting in a pulpy and marvelous parade: landscape, passion, morality, family, cigarettes—each cited frankly and exquisitely like a smart kid with a dirty crayon explaining to us all how she sees god." —Eileen Myles, author of Chelsea Girls
“I gobbled up these essays. Michelle Tea is riotously, wickedly funny, with an uncommon knack for naming the more hideous and complex parts of being human. Her particular genius makes the hardest truths and sorrows an irresistible joy to read.” —Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me
Interested in reading this book with a group? Download group discussion questions for Against Memoir here!