Valencia, Cafe Lafayette

I just finished reading Michele Tea’s Valencia, this is the second book that I’ve read by her, not including Baby Remember My Name an anthology that she edited. The first was Rent Girl, which I found to be really interesting and would require a whole other post to discuss properly. About Valencia, what I can say is this: Tea is something of a hero in the world of lesbian lit, one of the more successful writers in this heavily marginalized genre. Like watering a dry garden, her words effectively begin to fill the void of queer stories. It is good to hear something relatable, depictions of characters that I can recognize and landscapes that I have at least partially inhabited. However, it all feels like one long spit session, perhaps thus originated the tittle of her Sister Spit literary tour. The chapters all inhabit one novel/memoir/autobiography, but they don’t seem to flow together and it feels like she hasn’t completed any of her stories. It reminds me of commentary, would make for excellent blog posts, but I don’t think it functions as well as a consecutive, ideally complete book. Tea talks a lot about drinking, smoking, drugs and sex, a little bit about prostitution and love and self-loathing, but a sense of emptiness is transferred more than anything else. It’s strange to talk about love, yet express vacancy more than depth. I did enjoy it though, it had that addictive quality and really made me consider moving to San Franscisco. In a way I like Tea’s voice, but kept wishing she might write slower and consider craft over expressive explosion. But what do I know? I ‘m not the Queen of queer lit, not yet anyway! I know crossing Michelle Tea could be like crossing Oprah, but the Brooklyn Socialite is nothing if not honest.

A quick mention goes out to Cafe Lafayette. If your in Ft Greene, check out the amazing Lafayette burger, French bistro style, chill with the Mexican waiter, drink Corona’s after closing, or come on the weekend for yum crepes and good coffee. I love this place (G L)

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