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Black Wave
     

Black Wave

by Michelle Tea
 

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Desperate to quell her addiction to drugs, disastrous romance, and nineties San Francisco, Michelle heads south for LA. But soon it's officially announced that the world will end in one year, and life in the sprawling metropolis becomes increasingly weird.

While living in an abandoned bookstore, dating Matt Dillon, and keeping an eye on the encroaching

Overview


Desperate to quell her addiction to drugs, disastrous romance, and nineties San Francisco, Michelle heads south for LA. But soon it's officially announced that the world will end in one year, and life in the sprawling metropolis becomes increasingly weird.

While living in an abandoned bookstore, dating Matt Dillon, and keeping an eye on the encroaching apocalypse, Michelle begins a new novel, a sprawling and meta-textual exploration to complement her promises of maturity and responsibility. But as she tries to make queer love and art without succumbing to self-destructive vice, the boundaries between storytelling and everyday living begin to blur, and Michelle wonders how much she'll have to compromise her artistic process if she's going to properly ride out doomsday.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Laura Tanenbaum
In Tea's hands, sobriety, love and something like happiness are stranger and more unsettling than bohemian decadence could ever hope to be…Black Wave retains the off-kilter realism of the best apocalyptic writing: The nightmare is like our world, only a little more so.
Publishers Weekly
07/04/2016
In the first half of Tea’s (Valencia) autobiographical latest, set in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1999, sex and drugs are the primary occupations of the protagonist, also named Michelle. As Michelle gets drunk one evening, like most evenings, she watches the sunset from the doorway of the bar: “The hue of the sky was the visual equivalent of the alcohol settling into her body—dusky blue shot with gold and darkening to navy.” In Tea’s skillfully loose, lusty prose, Michelle is both vulnerable and brash, blitzing through lovers and bags of heroin, terrified but also convinced of her own invincibility. This tension emphasizes the reckless force of youth as well as the waning freedom of life before cell phones and the full-blown Internet, making this book an important portrait of the late ’90s. The second half of the novel, however, in which Michelle moves to L.A., morphs messily into a metacognitive excavation of what it means to write, rewrite, and revise one’s own story into art. This section of the book, which also plays with chronology, the approaching apocalypse, and the fabrication or conflation of characters, is less successful, in part because it ultimately feels less honest. The one exception, however, is the appearance of Matt Dillon in the used bookstore where Michelle works, a perfect, hilarious celebrity interaction subplot, anchoring Tea back down to the awkward dialogue and fierce desire she does so well. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"A Gen-X queer girl's version of the bohemian counter-canon." —New York Times

"Events, though outlandish, are narrated with total conviction, and powerfully express the intensity both of attaining sobriety and of the writing process." —The New Yorker

"Gliding deftly through issues of addiction and recovery, erasure and assimilation, environmental devastation and mass delusion about our own pernicious tendencies, this is a genre- and reality-bending story of quiet triumph for the perennial screw-up and unabashed outsider. A biting, sagacious, and delightfully dark metaliterary novel about finding your way in a world on fire." —Kirkus (starred review)

"It’s this rawness that makes Black Wave so disarming, a rollicking hallucinatory fantasy that’s as sobering as cold air. . . .It’s sentimental and reckless and not quite like anything I’ve read before. An apocalypse novel that makes you feel hopeful about the world: could anything be more timely?" —The Guardian

"In Tea's skillfully loose, lusty prose, Michelle is both vulnerable and brash, blitzing through lovers and bags of heroin, terrified but also convinced of her own invincibility... [A]n important portrait of the late '90s." —Publishers Weekly

"A philosophical meditation on the end times, complete with suicides, protests, magical dreams, and Matt Dillon.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“The prose is fucking gorgeous, the characters are hilarious and upsetting and miserable, the world is heart-stopping in its strangeness and bleak crawl to the edge of the cliff, then its tumble over the edge.” —Tor.com

"Out of a messy, scabrous delve into the personal, Tea has created something uncomfortably funny and bleakly gorgeous." —New Statesman

"[L]yrical but blunt, capturing her narrator's duel hopelessness and genuine desire for a life full of love and promise. . . .this book exists in a new kind of literary ecosystem—one that doesn't need to fit neatly into the structures of an older era." —BUST

“A love letter to literature’s lasting power and the ability of writing to save one’s future. . . . If the world is going to end, then Tea’s way out isn’t so bad.” —SF Chronicle

"I was unable put to Black Wave down, suddenly afraid and unsure of what was out there beyond my reading. This bad fairytale-come-true is destabilizing and palpable, and it’s Michelle Tea’s most fearless book. It’s a radically honest, scary, and wonderful place that Michelle has spun. It shook me up." —Eileen Myles, author of Chelsea Girls

"Scary, funny and genre-bending—a mind-blowing meta-poem—Black Wave is Michelle Tea's most ambitious, complex, and imaginative work so far. An investigation of addiction's apocalypse, it's somehow wonderfully strange, daring, and dirty and yet completely universal and true." —Jill Soloway, creator of Transparent

“Listen up: it’s the end of the world and Michelle Tea is the best writer to be with. She’s got the smarts and the laughs, the sharpness and the love, the grit and the skin and the ink she needs to see us through. I’m sticking with her until there’s nothing left.” —Daniel Handler, author of We Are Pirates

“I worship at the altar of this book. Somehow Michelle Tea has managed to write a hilarious, scorching, devastatingly observed novel about addiction, sex, identity, the 90s, apocalypse, and autobiography, while also gifting us with an indispensable meditation on what it means to write about those things—indeed, on what it means to write at all. A keen portrait of a subculture, an instant classic in life-writing, a go-for-broke exemplar of queer feminist imagination, a contribution to crucial, ongoing conversations about whose lives matter, Black Wave is a rollicking triumph.” —Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

Library Journal
11/15/2016
The author of ten books exploring queer culture, pop culture, feminism, and more, plus founder of the literary nonprofit RADAR Productions and cocreator of Sister Spit, Tea makes great literary content from the stuff of her on-the-edge life. This book started as a memoir aimed at examining the end of a long relationship and her sense of finally transitioning to adulthood. Soon, however, it morphed into a closely observed novel starring the hyperkinetic, probing Michelle, who moves from major drug taking at a San Francisco bar to a lucid grappling with life and love. It takes a moment to adjust to third-person Michelle-as-protagonist, but the pleasures of the prose, which is energized and exuberant (one might even say goofy), are the reward. VERDICT Tea paints a terrific portrait, but her great gift is how she makes readers look more closely at themselves.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-06-14
Churning through lovers, baggies, and bottles, writer Michelle Leduski runs for LA with the end of the world on her heels.In 1999, San Francisco's Mission District is rapidly gentrifying. The gritty glittering landscape of artists and radicals is gradually being supplanted by the sterile manufactured cool favored by dot-com boomers who spread like a fungus, displacing the neighborhood's previous crop of displacers, to which Michelle belongs, "a tribe bound not by ethnicity but by other things—desire, art, sex, poverty, politics." In what seems at first like a lightly fictionalized memoir, Tea (How to Grow Up, 2015, etc.) traverses ground familiar to readers of her previous work: booze, drugs, sex, protracted adolescence, and '90s queer culture. But as time destabilizes, we're irresistibly sucked into an alternate universe where the byproducts of modern living cause illness and alienation, the natural world has been all but eradicated, poisonous mists roll off the Pacific, and compost-powered cars trace the roads. Michelle leaves the Mission and attempts to write about a relationship ruined through the slow decay of self-neglect but is constantly plagued by a memoirist's fears of overexposing and harming those around her. While reality expands and collapses like a gasping lung and the Earth crumbles around her, Michelle digs at the emotional truth of a loss that feels like the end of everything. But, rather than succumb to apocalyptic depression as spectacles of hysteria and petty distractions continue to swirl around her, Michelle claws her way out of her spiral of self-destruction to face the end, clear-minded and resolute. Gliding deftly through issues of addiction and recovery, erasure and assimilation, environmental devastation and mass delusion about our own pernicious tendencies, this is a genre- and reality-bending story of quiet triumph for the perennial screw-up and unabashed outsider. A biting, sagacious, and delightfully dark metaliterary novel about finding your way in a world on fire.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558619395
Publisher:
Feminist Press at CUNY, The
Publication date:
09/13/2016
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
99,787
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author


Michelle Tea’s memoirs include The Passionate Mistakes, The Chelsea Whistle, Rent Girl, and Valencia, winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. Valencia was also made into a feature-length film and toured film festivals globally, and the book was translated into Slovenian, Japanese, and German. She is also the author of the novel Rose of No Man’s Land, and editor of anthologies Pills, Thrills, Chills and Heartache; Without a Net; It’s So You; and Baby, Remember My Name. She is also the author of a Young Adult fantasy trilogy being published by McSweeney’s. Her most recent book is How to Grow Up, a memoir in essays published by Penguin/Plume.

Michelle was the recipient of an award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, a GOLDIE in Literature from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and selected Best Local Writer by both the Guardian and San Francisco Weekly.

Michelle writes for various print and web publications, including The Believer, n+1, Buzzfeed, and xoJane. She is the creator of Mutha Magazine, an online publication about real-life parenting.

In 1994 Michelle Tea created Sister Spit, an all-girl open mic that ran weekly for two years in San Francisco, earning a Best of the Bay Award from The San Francisco Bay Guardian. From 1997 – 1999 Sister Spit toured the United States, bringing an ever-changing roster of female writers and performance artists across the country, including poet Eileen Myles, New York Times Bestselling author Beth Lisick, and transgender author, musician and performance artist Lynn Breedlove. In 2003 Michelle founded RADAR Productions, a literary non-profit organization that oversees a multitude of queer-centric projects.

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