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Twenty-three-year-old Michelle is too passive to quit her many short-lived jobs; she just calls in sick until she's fired, then hops to another job. She also bar-hops and bed-hops, from place to place, woman to woman, developing obsessive and hopeless crushes on unattainable women, loving the people who cannot or will not reciprocate her love. She likes to get drunk in the middle of the day, admittedly has no work ethic, and is delighted to multiply her earnings at a courier service by turning to prostitution. Ever the well-rounded young woman, she also runs a traveler's check scam for good measure. If all of this sounds just too self-serving if not mind-numbingly self-indulgent, it can be. Yet Tea, who is cofounder of Sister Spit, the traveling girl-poetry road show, on occasion manages to lift this a-year-lived-in-San-Francisco narrative out of anomie and into an edgy, supercharged, supersurreal, reality. Whitney Scott
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Tea, a modern-day Beat, is also a kind of pop ambassador to the world of the tattooed, pierced, politicized and sex-radical queer-grrls of San Francisco. Her second novel (after The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America) dramatizes the hopes and hurts, apathies and ambitions of young lesbians looking for love in the Mission District, focusing on Michelle, a poet navigating the druggy, boozy dyke scene while consorting with a series of wacky lady loves. Among these are Petra, who thrills Michelle by brandishing a knife and being bossy in bed; Willa, a depressive who won't take off her clothes even in the heat of passion; Iris, originally from Georgia; and Scrumptious, who Michelle falls for before she realizes she's the type of girl who wears corny "freedom rings" and white jeans. While the trivialities of these courtships are entertaining and the book is far more coherent than the author's first novel, Tea hasn't entirely figured out how to make her characters come to life beyond predictable bounds. Organized as a series of loosely linked character profiles, the book self-consciously relies on the hipster grooviness and inside jokes of S.F. culture to energize the narrative. And although Tea's writing is consistently uncommon and textured -- "the mushrooms tasted like a trunk of moth-eaten clothes and after we ate them we went out to the stoop and waited for the world to turn weird"--folks waiting for the truly weird, breakthrough novel in downtown alt-chick literature will be disappointed by this sometimes-superficial, stylized entry. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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The eponymous lesbian heroine of Tea's Valencia lives in a dirty San Franciscan haze of cigarettes, cheap beer, hip fashion, and girlfriend after girlfriend. As she moves from one confused affair to the next, she drifts from job to job and passion to passion. In this continuation of Tea's The Passionate Mistakes and the Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America (Semiotext(e), 1999), the twentysomething characters desperately search for love and usually find only an unrequited crush or hollow sex. There's no real plot here, but there is immediacy in the stream-of-consciousness style, as if Tea were in the room offering the reader a late-night confession. Recommended for those seeking a glimpse into the angst of a dramatically self-absorbed if ultimately aimless youth culture.--Devon C. Thomas, Hass Assocs., Ann Arbor, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.