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on November 24, 2004
Michelle Tea never seems tired of writing about her life. If she keeps up to her to usual standards, there's no reason why the rest of us would ever tire of reading about it either. RENT GIRL focuses on Tea's history in the sex trade, a witty graphic novel/memoir that is not only humorous and inspiring but beautifully illustrated.

Tea is a fantastic writer who does not shy away from revealing the "mechanics" of her exploits to an encounter with a bad case of crabs. There is no "woe is me" monologues or angry tirades against an unforgiving society. She describes the absurdity of her clients, from a self-proclained warlock to cocaine-addicted business men. Her writing masterfully remains passively unapologetic and full of the witty prose that Tea is known for. The art work is spectacular. Laurenn McCubbin's eye for detail captures near-perfect facial expressions and the raw emotion of Tea's work. I hope the two will collaborate again.

RENT GIRL is simply amazing. Michelle Tea's personal accounts are simple yet complicated with jaded opinions and poetic verses about faked sex acts and looking for stability in a chaotic world. This won't disappoint.
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on December 19, 2010
Ultimately, this book leaves me cold. The premise sounds good, a lesbian hooker's kiss and tell plus pictures but after a promising beginning, describing an invite-only party her madame throws the story falters. The main reason for this is that the narrator appears to have only one attitude towards other people: sneering contempt. This doesn't say much about these other people but it says a lot about the narrator. And thus one loses interest in her rapidly.

Add atrocious (i.e. non-existent) editing, numerous spelling errors and the constant substitution of `than' with `then' and the picture that emerges is that of an author who appears to think that a memoir is worth reading simply because the author happens to be a part of the queer community. I am sorry, but it is not. Being self-absorbed and condescending doesn't make you a good writer, queer or not. I'd much rather read Dorothy Allison or Patrick Califia for that matter.

A shame, really, because the idea does sound good and the illustrations by Laurenn McGubbin are quite nice.
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VINE VOICEon May 20, 2010
I enjoyed the writing a great deal and was impressed that the "graphic" aspects of the novel did not override the plot and characters in the actual story. However, I was disappointed in the story as a whole. I found Tea's work as a sex worker extremely interesting, but as a narrator I found her to be whiny and often annoying. Though she courageously displayed her weaknesses as well as her strengths, I still could not help but want more from the characters whether it was development, background information, or some resolution. Being that it is a memoir, everything can't always be pleasantly resolved. However, every character eventually disappear without any acknowledgment that they had previously existed.

The story begins with great strength and interest as Tea describes her life as a lesbian sex worker in Boston. As her travels bring her to Provincetown and Tucson, the reader can feel that Tea is running out of steam (and so is her story). Her girlfriend, for the majority of the piece, is a self-centered and one-dimensional woman who introduces Tea to the world of prostitution. Along the way, the two meet up and live with various other sex workers and drug addicts. While the ride is rocky and the writing is smooth, the characters are emotionally limited and appear as caricatures.
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on January 3, 2005
This graphic novel is less about a working-class lesbian's foray into the sex industry and more about the liberation of life experience. Tea reinforces the fact that she's the real deal: Her prose is colloquial and well-crafted--typos notwithstanding. And McCubbin's illustrations? Each is a little piece of perfection: shimmering, warm, and bright.
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on March 30, 2011
After reading "Valencia," I decided to check out Michele Tea's "Rent Girl," a collaborative graphic novel style memoir about the author's years as a prostitute in Boston and, briefly, San Francisco. I loved the style and aesthetic of this book (even though a bizarre number of the illustrations were just pictures of Tea in various outfits, facing the viewer with this "let me tell you how it is" look on her face).

The prose was stylistically similar to Tea's other work, but more focused on the topic at hand. The author spends little time discussing her own emotions, thought processes and even her own life outside work and the people she worked with. This book is interesting not because Tea offers compelling characters or a fully developed life story, but because she explains frankly and unabashedly what prostitution is like.

Overall, it was a good read, but not as absorbing as some of her other work.
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on August 14, 2006
As a fan of all of Michelle Tea's works, this one keeps track with her amazing writing style. It's not normal, but it's not unbearably weird. This book is hard to put down, and when you do put it down, you will think about it.

It goes in hard into how exactly her life was, real, gritty, and not glossed over. She doesn't just focus on the good times, she gets into the raw of it. The drawings that accompany are amazing as well.

This will go down as one of my favorite books.
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on September 20, 2006
The book is written differently than any other book I have read so that caught me off guard at first. I learned to enjoy the way Michelle Tea wrote and was fasinated by her life. My only complaint is that it ended way too soon. I am going to purchase more of her work. The artwork is wonderful.
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on March 3, 2006
At first the art and stream-of-thought-style writing is a little hard to stomach. After around the second chapter, however, I really started to get used to the style and actually interested in the book. It's very gritty and blunt. However, at the same time it really puts you THERE. I have friends that are somewhat like the girls in the book, so it hit very close to home for me. I would definitely recommend this book.
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on November 22, 2004
Lyrical, insightful, honest, and rich with detail, Rent Girl provides an unvarnished, up-close look at sex work and hustling without ever being prurient or preachy. The story is fascinating, the prose is poetic, and the art is sensational. Fans of Eileen Myles and Phoebe Gloeckner will love this book. Just amazing.
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on March 16, 2011
This book should come with a warning: I couldn't stop reading it, and then I couldn't sleep when I finished it.

I don't know how I stumbled onto it, but I bought it more out of curiosity than anything else. Michelle Tea weaves a tale of a terrible gospel--there is The Fall, The Suffering, The Awareness--but alas, no salvation. Over and over again, I kept wondering why she was doing this to herself and to other people, but there's no answer, even to her. The book is gritty, and Tea herself is not a character the reader ever likes--but her perception of life very much on the edge is what makes this graphic novel so readable.

This is not an elegant "Belle de Jour" story of prostitution, and parts are frightening. Some of the men she is alone with--she knows--want to rape and murder women or little girls. Tea repeats feminist ideas to herself, as though to remind the reader that she is still liberated, but the ideas never materialize--after all, what does feminism mean with this kind of life?

But that question is the purpose of the story. Tea is still a feminist, a believer of sorts, but her life and her choices are her own. She is a snarling, sarcastic lover of women. She doesn't apologize for it, or make excuses. She never tries to be a nice girl at all. She develops a deep insight into her own actions, and the actions of the men who rent her by the hour--and all this without a bit of compassion.

So you're wondering if you should read it? I'd say yes--but don't expect any resolution at the end
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