Michelle Tea is the author of five memoirs: The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America, Valencia (now a film), The Chelsea Whistle, Rent Girl (illustrated) and How to Grow Up (Penguin/Plume), currently in development with Amazon Studios. Her novels include Mermaid in Chelsea Creek and Girl at the Bottom of the Sea, part of a Young Adult fantasy trilogy published by McSweeneys, and Rose of No Man’s Land. Black Wave is a dystopic memoir-fiction hybrid. Forthcoming works include Castle on the River Vistula, the final installment of the YA series, and Modern Tarot, a tarot how-to and spell book published by Harper Elixir.
Tea is the curator of the Amethyst Editions imprint at Feminist Press. She founded the literary non-profit RADAR Productions and the international Sister Spit performance tours, and is the former editor of Sister Spit Books, an imprint of City Lights. She created Mutha Magazine, an online publication about real-life parenting. Her writing has appeared in Harper’s, Cosmopolitan, The Believer, Marie Clare, n+1, xoJane, California Sunday Magazine, Buzzfeed and many other print and web publications.
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.
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“Churning through lovers, baggies, and bottles, writer Michelle Leduski runs for LA with the end of the world on her heels… In what seems at first like a lightly fictionalized memoir, Tea 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… 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 Reviews (Starred Review)
“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, The Argonauts
“Black Wave is definitely Michelle Tea’s most fearless book. Charles Dickens-sharp and attentive to the morose and glittering detail like always, yet Black Wave threatens to take everything and everybody down. It’s Michelle Tea’s apocalyptic book and I was unable to put it down for fear I no longer felt sure of what was out there beyond my reading, so destabilizing and palpable is this bad fairytale come true. It’s a radically honest and scary book. And trust me, it’s a bloody and wonderful place Michelle has spun, fantastic, dark, and entirely awake. It shook me up.”
—Eileen Myles, Chelsea Girls
“With Black Wave, Michelle Tea has made a quantum leap, surpassing even the fearlessly fucked up and spit-kiss vivid genius of her previous work—which is saying something. Tea renders her personal story with such ferocity, such soul, such shameless, wild-ass detail and weird delight, she will probably be banned from North Carolina for life. Queer, straight, fluid, or confused—if you’ve ever loved, ever struggled, ever felt cut off from what passes for normal on this demented hellhole of a planet, this brilliant, beautiful book will rip your heart out and put it back in a better place.”
—Jerry Stahl, Permanent Midnight
“Michelle Tea has written an apocalypse I can get behind! I could spend my end of days with these characters. Tea is one of the most important writers of the twenty-first century. Now, go devour this book.”
—Ali Liebegott, The Beautifully Worthless
“Michelle Tea is like no other writer. Black Wave amps her uniquely seductive whirl of ugliness, hilarity, and brainy, sexy, revelry to produce a work with the centripetal pull of a maelstrom. You will be sucked in.”
—Heidi Julavits, The Uses of Enchantment
“Scary, funny, and genre-bending—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 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 (aka Lemony Snicket), We Are the Pirates
“Incandescent, breathtaking in its nakedness, and painfully hilarious. Every few pages, I needed to put Black Wave down and sigh and think and be. Black Wave feels so familiar and so mine, like it has always lived deep deep deep in the corners of my soul. Even if our lives could not be more different I know and have felt exactly as she has.”
—Kathryn Hahn, actor
“Michelle Tea is a badass, a rebel, and a marvelously dangerous artist. Whether we know it or not, many women of my generation grew up under her influence. Black Wave continues her unbroken pattern of kicking butt.”
—Sara Benincasa, Agorafabulous! Dispatches from My Bedroom
“Black Wave… in which worlds end, neighborhoods transform, capitalism triumphs; Michelle leaves SF and moves to LA, gives up drugs, takes up alcohol, spots celebrities, f*cks Matt Dillon, tries to write a screen play. Tinged with dark humor and leavened by wicked insights into ambition, disappointment, celebrity, and destitution, Black Wave will ruin you, rescue you, and ruin you again. Think Djuna Barnes on crack, think Burroughs with balls, think feminism on fire. If you read one book before the end of the world, let it be this one.”
—Jack Halberstam, Gaga Feminism
In How to Grow Up, Michelle Tea shares her awkward stumble towards the life of a Bonafide Grown-Up: healthy, responsible, self-aware, stable. After fleeing her down-and-out hometown of Chelsea, Massachusetts at the age of nineteen, Michelle resurfaced in California. There, she lived in a filthy communal house; she smoked, drank, and snorted anything she could get her hands on; and she worked dead-end jobs. During all of this, she scribbled in notebooks and eventually built herself a literary career. How she became the sober, mature, thoughtful adult she is today is the essence of How to Grow Up.In incredible tales that take readers from the shows of Paris Fashion Week to a run-down San Francisco apartment, from Las Vegas casinos to a yacht on the French Riviera, Tea reveals her messy journey to adulthood and what she’s learned along the way. With advice ranging from the silly (why you should never hit on your tattoo artist) to the serious (what you should do when you hit rock bottom), How to Grow Up touches on evergreen subjects like relationships, religion, and feminism with a no-holds-barred attitude.
Award-winning author Michelle Tea’s previous works have been called “impossible to put down” by People magazine and “raucous…[and] apologetically raw” by The New York Times. Now, Michelle Tea writes a gutsy and comically poignant memoir-in-essays about growing up without selling out.
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“While admitting to her failures and misadventures, Tea chooses to dwell on the positive, life-enhancing practices and influences she has embraced during her journey to adulthood, and this latest installment of her resilient ride is wild, wickedly funny, and refreshingly reverent.” —Elle Magazine
“An engaging and often darkly funny memoir. Life begins at 40 for the author, who got a late start on adulthood and had a wild time getting there.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Tea’s charming and self-effacing humor makes this a delightful read for those who are on their own path to adulthood or fully developed adults who want to remind themselves of how far they’ve come.” —Library Journal
Tuesday September 13th: Powerhouse Arena, DUMBO NY, 7pm in conversation with Isaac Fitzgerald
Sunday September 18th: Brooklyn Book Festival
Sunday October 9th: Book Binder Museum San Francisco with Daniel Handler at LitQuake
Monday October 10th: Avid Reader, Sacramento, CA, 6pm
Tuesday October 11th: 1078 Gallery Chico, CA
Thursday October 13th:UC Santa Cruz
Thursday November 17th: Writing as Activism at Portland State University
Friday November 18th: Seattle, WA
Wednesday February 8th: Georgetown University with Jennifer Fink and Marcia Chatelain
February 8-11th: AWP Washington, DC
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Michelle is available to speak at your university, book store, or event.
Use the contact form below to get in touch!