Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Passionate Mistakes & Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America, by Michelle Tea

(pb; 1998: prequel to Valencia)

Tea's first book reads like an angry teenager's tell-all diary. Appropriately rambling, with no paragraph breaks, it starts in Boston, Massachussetts, 1987, when Michelle is an adolescent goth, dealing with clumsy boyfriends, partying, getting felt up by popular musicians (members of the band INXS and New Kids on the Block are mentioned), and fending off neo-Nazi punks.

Detailed, gossipy tales are conveyed to the reader: it's not long before Michelle becomes a politically-agitative dyke and sex worker, and takes up with a volatile lover named Liz.

There's a lot of wisdom, warmth and sadness in the blow-by-blow accounts of her experiences (some of them are sexually explicit, most of them not). While Tea's chattering tone wears thin in some parts, it's ultimately worth reading, especially the abrupt, yet tone-consistent (and satisfying) ending.

Tea has injected this spiky, entertaining read with shots of old-school, punk-ferocious veracities. It's not a great book, but it's a promising first effort.

Followed by Valencia.

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