Black Wave by Michelle Tea

Black Wave

Michelle Tea

This heady mix of memoir and metafiction takes us from the slacker counterculture of nineties San Francisco to a near-future dystopian Los Angeles, with the world on the brink of environmental apocalypse. Alienation, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and self-loathing feature heavily, so don’t expect a cosy feel-good trip. This is hardcore entertainment - funny, fearless, insightful and mind-blowing.

Extract

I just can’t open my screenplay with a scene of myself smoking crack in Ziggy’s van, Michelle thought, and deleted twenty pages of text from her desktop. It felt like she’d deleted her stomach, something vanished in her body – well, that was rash. Too bad. The computer glared at her with its vacant cyclops eye, daring her to try again, to tell a universal story...
What made those crack stories work? What made them, um, universal? Michelle suspected class. The suburbanites wanted to shake off the strangling yoke of prosperity and good behaviour. Michelle imagined if the characters were black or gay the story wouldn’t work as well. The characters wouldn’t be able to risk it, their foothold on suburbia tenuous as it was. The reader was having a hard enough time trying to relate to a black person or a gay person without then having to relate to a crackhead. It was too much. Though black and gay suburbanites surely deserved a relaxing hit of crack cocaine more than the couple in the Homes story, they would have to settle for a glass of wine with dinner.

Parallels
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  • Cool for You by Eileen Myles

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