Winner of the 2019 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
‘I must find my own complicated junkie to have violent sex with. In 1994, nothing seemed like a better idea, save being able to write about it later.’
Michelle Tea is our exuberant, witty guide to the hard times and wild creativity of queer life in America. Along the way she reclaims SCUM Manifesto author Valerie Solanas as an absurdist, remembers the lives and deaths of the lesbian motorbike gang HAGS, and listens to activists at a trans protest camp. This kaleidoscope of love and adventure also makes room for a defence of pigeons and a tale of teenage goths hustling for tips at an ice creamery in a ‘grimy, busted city called Chelsea’. Unsparing but unwaveringly kind, Michelle Tea reveals herself and others in unexpected and heartbreaking ways.
Against Memoir is the winner of the 2019 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. Best known as writer of fiction and memoir, this is the first time Tea’s journalism has been collected. Delivered with her signature candour and dark humour, Against Memoir solidifies her place as one of the leading queer writers of our time.
Read an Excerpt
- Read an excerpt of a piece from the collection, titled ‘I had a Miscarriage’ now Live on TANK Magazine, here.
- Read more about Michelle Tea and her debut fiction, Black Wave.
- Selected in the Stylist as one of the ‘Best LGBTQ books to read this pride month’.
- Read more about Michelle Tea and her writing in this interview with The Rumpus.
- Long Reads has written about Michelle Tea and Queer Memoir as a problematic genre.
- Check out Michelle Tea’s interview with Amelia Ambraham in Dazed Magazine.
author of The Argonauts
‘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.’
author of Chelsea Girls
‘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.’
'From the beautiful trenches of our affections, Michelle Tea's Against Memoir brings home that queerness is universal.'
'If you want to know how the best queer writing comes out of community, lived experience and political urgency, start here.'
'Michelle Tea’s writing is an urgent call-to-arms. She illuminates the relationship between the personal and political in her interrogation of gender, sexuality and ideology. She shows us how to engage with a burning world as a thinking, feeling person.’
‘When I read Michelle Tea I don't know whether I want to be her, be with her, or just listen in awe to her speak. I've loved every one of her books, and this is no exception: fierce, raw and tender.’
'Against Memoir ripples with compassion, anger, curiosity and humour.'
‘Michelle Tea is an intoxicating writer, delivering sentences that land with the snap and force of a punch.’
'The author’s kindness and intelligence is a barbiturate in the telling of a bold memoir that details abuse, addiction, sex and the communities brought together through American counterculture.'
'Queer culture, drugs and feminism are all discussed with honesty and humour.'
The Crack (Newcastle culture magazine)
'Informative, considered and fair-minded, Tea tackles [tricky subjects] with both wit and candour.'
'These are dispatches from a mind on fire. Every essay goes where most writers fear to go - whether she's taking down privilege, talking up the books that save us from abuse, or celebrating every suburban girl who ever had a Prince fantasy, Michelle Tea's irresistibly fresh writing and openhearted voice make Against Memoir a brilliant, wild ride.'
'Against Memoir feels almost like archaeology, as if Tea is uncovering and preserving a gospel of queer, poor, punk femaleness though lost or destroyed.'
'Often humorous but never sentimental, Against Memoir promises a candid, close-to-the-bone exploration of queer life in America.'
'An all-round brilliant and entertaining writer'
author of The Book of Joan
‘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.’
The New York Times
'Eclectic and wide-ranging. . . . A palpable pain animates many of these essays, as well as a raucous joy and bright curiosity.’
The New Republic
‘The best essay collection I've read in years.’
‘Bristles with life and a fierce intellect.’
'An entrancing collection of irreverent and flamboyant essays.’
Publishers Weekly (starred)
‘Queer counterculture beats loud and proud in Tea’s stellar collection.’
‘An essential work.’
‘Against Memoir is a must-read for hopeless romantics and anyone passionate about life.’
'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.’
The Brooklyn Rail
'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.’
Lambda Literary Review
‘Tea’s writing continues to make the world worth living in.’