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Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties (Farrar, Straus & Girous, 2003; Seal Press, 2004)
"Buckle up, doll. I promise I'll try not to tangle your quinceñaera dress." So begins the adventure of Leticia Marisol Estrella Torrez, who moves north to Los Angeles in an attempt to break from her past: from starched dresses and sleek, tight braids, from Nana, the traditional grandmother who raised her, and from Weeping Woman, the siren of Mexican folklore who flies through night skies to steal troublesome children and who embodies, in many ways, Leti's first love. As Leti immerses herself in Los Angeles' post-punk, post-queer hipster scene, navigating the twisting road of her own shifting gender and falling deep into "papaya lush blush" love, she rediscovers the strength and meaning of familia. A striking debut novel, Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties turns tradition on its head while laying flowers at its feet. Praise for Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties
"Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties is both outrageous and glorious. It's a wild ride that's worth every damn cent you spent for the ticket!" -Helena María Viramontes, author of Under the Feet of Jesus
"Nimble and well written...a breath of fresh air in the contemporary Chicana narrative." -Mayra Montero, author of Deep Purple
"Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties is a well-crafted and very refreshing debut novel, a welcome contribution to Chicana letters from the new generation." -Ana Castillo, author of The Mixquiahuala Letters "Lemus’ language shifts as fluidly as her heroine’s gender. Her sentences at their best are so condensed, so packed and hot, they’re on the verge of exploding. Bursting at the seams with pizzazz and invention..." -The San Francisco Chronicle
"An edgy and risky debut that leaps over clichés and lands in the center of the modern-day intricacies of a new generation...Felicia Luna Lemus will indeed be declared a trail-blazing writer." -El Paso Times
"Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties captures the messy, pinball reality of a young, urban dyke princess, struggling to carve out a place in the world." -Lambda Book Report
"Offers deep insights into familia and cultura without an ounce of heavy-handedness." -Latina Magazine
"An edgy, exuberant debut. This is an intriguing novel sure to attract readers searching for something urban, lively, and a bit different." -Publishers Weekly
"Engagingly told...this tale will charm and earn this first-time author a following." -Booklist
"Lemus is a truly talented storyteller. Highly recommended." -Library Journal "Lemus' writing on love is intoxicating." -Ruminator Review
"Felicia Luna Lemus is fiercely intelligent." -The Advocate
"A spry debut from a writer who's got the skills." -Kirkus Reviews
"Dares to be bold." -Hispanic Magazine
Honors Astraea Foundation, Honorable Mention in Fiction
A post-punk story of outsiders, family, inherited drama, and love set in downtown New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City.
Meet Frank Cruz: a post-punk thirty-year-old who unwittingly inherits his dead father's legacy. Born a bouncing baby girl named Francisca to parents tangled in a doomed love affair, Frank grows up in both the poorest barrios and poshest hills of Southern California. At the age of eighteen, Frank moves to the big city, but is pulled back into helping his estranged and blind father navigate an untimely death. Upon his death, Frank's father leaves his only child a mysterious crumbling photograph of a woman with a stunning gaze: Nahui Olin, a captivating member of the early 20th century Mexican avant-garde who once left her mark upon the Cruz family.
Punctured to his core by Nahui, Frank takes her portrait and flees to New York City to start anew—this time for real. There he meets fiery and eccentric Nathalie. They fall in love. Seven years of happy-go-lucky life later, the New York skyline tumbles and Frank finds himself smack in the middle of his predestined fate.
Praise for Like Son
"Felicia Luna Lemus is a literary alchemist: she combines words that you never before thought could exist in the same sentence. She breaks all the rules and makes you wonder why you thought there were any. But enough about her style...The characters in Like Son are truly original creations—it would take a heart of stone not to love them." -Vendela Vida, author of Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and co-founder of The Believer magazine
"Like Son is a love story that, like a psychic's trick, leaves nothing unbent: not gender, not culture north and south of the border, not time, or friendship, not even love itself. Don't try to understand how it happens; just watch, and be amazed." -Paul La Farge, author of Haussmann, or the Distinction
"Felicia Luna Lemus' fresh yet plain-spoken prose roots us in today's sad and sweeping chaos, as hope, love, and wild myth propel her unique characters into an unknown future. Like Son is a sweet song of a story." -Michelle Tea, author of Rose of No Man's Land
"Like Son moves on the wings of a soulful, visceral kind of androgyny. Old men, young men, hot girls—all step forward and sing from their stuttering hearts. Like Son is one terrific read." -Eileen Myles, author of Cool for You
"Like Son is revelatory: a truly original exploration of the complex relationships that shape a wonderfully complicated protagonist. This is intimate storytelling of the best kind." -Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned
"A writer with an unparalleled literary style and attitude, Felicia Luna Lemus comes charging full force." -El Paso Times
"Lemus doesn't waste a word in this smart novel." -Publishers Weekly
"A powerfully written chronicle of love." -Booklist
"Lemus is a writer with a serious voice." -Time Out New York
"A must read book." -Latina Magazine
Honors Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction, Finalist The Believer Book Award, Long List
An academic essay about Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties!
“Temporality and Queer Storytelling in Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties” By esteemed Stanford University Professor Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano Published in the preeminent Chicano Studies journal, Aztlán (Spring 2013)