Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms

Feminist Press at CUNY
Free sample

Winner of 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

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 queer lives, Michelle Tea also reveals herself in unexpected and heartbreaking ways.

Delivered with her signature honesty and dark humor, this is Tea’s first-ever collection of journalistic writing. As she 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 price that art demands be paid from life.

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About the author

Michelle Tea is the author of numerous books, including Black Wave, Valencia, and How to Grow Up. She is the creator of the Sister Spit all-girl open mic and the 1997-1999 national tour, and founded RADAR Productions, a literary non-profit that oversees queer-centric projects. Currently she creates Amethyst Editions, a queer imprint of the Feminist Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Feminist Press at CUNY
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Published on
May 8, 2018
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Pages
232
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ISBN
9781936932191
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Collections / Essays
Literary Collections / LGBT
Literary Collections / Women Authors
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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A sharp and provocative new essay collection from the award-winning author of Freedom and The Corrections

The essayist, Jonathan Franzen writes, is like “a fire-fighter, whose job, while everyone else is fleeing the flames of shame, is to run straight into them.” For the past twenty-five years, even as his novels have earned him worldwide acclaim, Franzen has led a second life as a risk-taking essayist. Now, at a moment when technology has inflamed tribal hatreds and the planet is beset by unnatural calami- ties, he is back with a new collection of essays that recall us to more humane ways of being in the world.

Franzen’s great loves are literature and birds, and The End of the End of the Earth is a passionate argument for both. Where the new media tend to confirm one’s prejudices, he writes, literature “invites you to ask whether you might be somewhat wrong, maybe even entirely wrong, and to imagine why someone else might hate you.” Whatever his subject, Franzen’s essays are always skeptical of received opinion, steeped in irony, and frank about his own failings. He’s frank about birds, too (they kill “everything imaginable”), but his reporting and reflections on them—on seabirds in New Zealand, warblers in East Africa, penguins in Antarctica—are both a moving celebration of their beauty and resilience and a call to action to save what we love.

Calm, poignant, carefully argued, full of wit, The End of the End of the Earth provides a welcome
breath of hope and reason.

“A gutsy, wise memoir-in-essays from a writer praised as ‘impossible to put down’”—People

From PEN America Literary Award-winning author Michelle Tea comes a moving personal essay collection about the trials and triumphs of shedding your vices in order to find yourself.

As an aspiring young writer in San Francisco, Michelle Tea lived in a scuzzy communal house: she drank; she smoked; she snorted anything she got her hands on; she toiled for the minimum wage; she dated men and women, and sometimes both at once. But between hangovers and dead-end jobs, she scrawled in notebooks and organized dive bar poetry readings, working to make her literary dreams a reality.
 
In How to Grow Up, Tea shares her awkward stumble towards the life of a Bona Fide Grown-Up: healthy, responsible, self-aware, and stable. She writes about passion, about her fraught relationship with money, about adoring Barney’s while shopping at thrift stores, about breakups and the fertile ground between relationships, about roommates and rent, and about being superstitious (“why not, it imbues this harsh world of ours with a bit of magic”).  At once heartwarming and darkly comic, How to Grow Up proves that the road less traveled may be a difficult one, but if you embrace life’s uncertainty and dust yourself off after every screw up, slowly but surely, you just might make it to adulthood.
 
“Wild, wickedly funny, and refreshingly relevant.” —Elle 

“This compulsively readable collection is so damn good, you’ll tear through the whole thing (and possibly take notes along the way).” —Bustle
*A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018*
*A Bustle Best Nonfiction Book of 2018*
*One of Chicago Tribune's Favorite Books by Women in 2018*
*A Self Best Book of 2018 to Buy for the Bookworm in Your Life*

By the acclaimed critic, memoirist, and advice columnist behind the popular "Ask Polly," an impassioned collection tackling our obsession with self-improvement and urging readers to embrace the imperfections of the everyday

Heather Havrilesky's writing has been called "whip-smart and profanely funny" (Entertainment Weekly) and "required reading for all humans" (Celeste Ng). In her work for New York, The Baffler, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic, as well as in "Ask Polly," her advice column for The Cut, she dispenses a singular, cutting wisdom--an ability to inspire, provoke, and put a name to our most insidious cultural delusions.

What If This Were Enough? is a mantra and a clarion call. In its chapters--many of them original to the book, others expanded from their initial publication--Havrilesky takes on those cultural forces that shape us. We've convinced ourselves, she says, that salvation can be delivered only in the form of new products, new technologies, new lifestyles. From the allure of materialism to our misunderstandings of romance and success, Havrilesky deconstructs some of the most poisonous and misleading messages we ingest today, all the while suggesting new ways to navigate our increasingly bewildering world.

Through her incisive and witty inquiries, Havrilesky urges us to reject the pursuit of a shiny, shallow future that will never come. These timely, provocative, and often hilarious essays suggest an embrace of the flawed, a connection with what already is, who we already are, what we already have. She asks us to consider: What if this were enough? Our salvation, Havrilesky says, can be found right here, right now, in this imperfect moment.
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