Read Remark Book Review - Black Wave by Michelle Tea

Book Review: Black Wave by Michelle Tea

One-sentence summary:

Michelle (a fictional Michelle – not the author) is addicted to heroin and falling in love, moves to LA to start fresh, and then a black wave of doom looms and the world comes to an end.


Reading that summary is weird and doesn’t at all explain the book’s plot, right?

Well, reading Black Wave is strange and I don’t really understand the book’s plot.

At one point, Michelle says to her mom, “Explain to me what’s going on. I don’t understand.” I feel much the same way. The first half of the book follows Michelle in her drug and sex haze, moving from one high to another. And then, we turn abruptly to the end of the world.

I don’t have to understand the plot. That’s not the point.

The real plot is this: Michelle is a deeply imperfect person living in a deeply imperfect world.

And that’s what I love about Black Wave. Michelle narrates her own life in a matter of fact way – she doesn’t try to excuse her heavy drug and alcohol use with a sob story, and she also spares us from the tedious long-winded drug fantasies and hallucinations that some authors make the mistake of slipping into.

Same thing with Michelle’s reaction to the end of the world. She ruminates about the decisions she’ll never get to make and the future she might have had, but doesn’t get buried in a pile of her own malaise.

Although a dark practice, it’s strangely fun to think about people’s reactions to the end of the world. Movies and books have made all sorts of hypotheses. Most times, there’s a hefty share of hedonism, looting, an unburdening of secrets.

For Michelle, the end of the world is