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UNSINKABLE

CANCER, FIVE BOATS, AND MY 500 710-KILOMETRE SEA SWIM

A bold, uplifting testament to the tenacity of the human spirit.

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A tireless outdoorsman conquers grief with a series of adventure challenges in this memoir.

Corcoran’s daring athletic odyssey doesn’t begin with his decision to swim the 500 km length of Ireland’s coastline. It began when his beloved father, Milo, suffered a stroke in 2011, inspiring the author, at 20, to run 35 marathons in 35 consecutive days around Ireland’s coast. Six years later, Corcoran, an avid motorcyclist and outdoor enthusiast, upped his game, and, in another tribute to his father—who died of cancer in 2016—the author embarked on an intrepid swimming feat: “I needed to do something,” he confesses. “I needed to move and express myself.” His memoir is fast-paced and exhilarating, vividly detailing his grueling, rigorous training schedule under the tutelage of marathon swimmer Chris Bryan, which was critical, as Corcoran had only trained as a runner before. However, Corcoran’s charity swim wasn’t corporate sponsored, and he had to manage the event’s logistics independently while concurrently training and manning a desk job to stay afloat financially. The swim itself had a bevy of obstacles, including the frigid cold and high waves of the Irish Sea, requiring months of tolerance training. Hours of rigorous pool laps were no match for braving actual seawater as “one hundred metres of icy blackness flowed beneath me.” The candid, conversational author details the heartbreak of his decision to cut short his initial swim after just 210 km when his support boat sank. The book becomes a journal of resilience when, in 2019, the author mapped out yet another challenge to complete the original venture.    

This companion memoir fittingly accompanies a feature-length Irish documentary film, also titled Unsinkable, which chronicles Corcoran’s marathon and swimming challenges. The author puts into words what the film shows to be a true journey of the heart, inspired by familial love, grief, and a dedication to pushing his mind and body to their limits. His personal challenges became fundraising opportunities, amassing hefty donations for stroke and cancer charities: “it wasn’t merely swimming but doing my utmost to help others and soften disaster’s blow,” the author writes. The book is decorated with a full-colorphotographic diary by the author featuring action shots as well as images of family members and support crew; it also features line drawings and informative maps. Corcoran’s writing talents are similarly impressive—particularly his keen eye for natural details, as when he describes terrifying rip currents or being out to sea during a storm when “sharp spears of rain punctured the water like bullets.” On more personal terms, the memoir not only details the athleticism necessary to accomplish his ambitious goals, but also defines Corcoran’s endeavors as affecting, determined efforts to work through grief and to channel his anger and negativity surrounding the loss of his father into a physical challenge. Suffused with breathless athleticism, relentless resolve, and immense catharsis, this is a poignant portrayal of a man “trying to process life.” A bold, uplifting testament to the tenacity of the human spirit.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2023

ISBN: 9781838365028

Page Count: 303

Publisher: Tivoli Publishing House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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LOVE, PAMELA

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

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The iconic model tells the story of her eventful life.

According to the acknowledgments, this memoir started as "a fifty-page poem and then grew into hundreds of pages of…more poetry." Readers will be glad that Anderson eventually turned to writing prose, since the well-told anecdotes and memorable character sketches are what make it a page-turner. The poetry (more accurately described as italicized notes-to-self with line breaks) remains strewn liberally through the pages, often summarizing the takeaway or the emotional impact of the events described: "I was / and still am / an exceptionally / easy target. / And, / I'm proud of that." This way of expressing herself is part of who she is, formed partly by her passion for Anaïs Nin and other writers; she is a serious maven of literature and the arts. The narrative gets off to a good start with Anderson’s nostalgic memories of her childhood in coastal Vancouver, raised by very young, very wild, and not very competent parents. Here and throughout the book, the author displays a remarkable lack of anger. She has faced abuse and mistreatment of many kinds over the decades, but she touches on the most appalling passages lightly—though not so lightly you don't feel the torment of the media attention on the events leading up to her divorce from Tommy Lee. Her trip to the pages of Playboy, which involved an escape from a violent fiance and sneaking across the border, is one of many jaw-dropping stories. In one interesting passage, Julian Assange's mother counsels Anderson to desexualize her image in order to be taken more seriously as an activist. She decided that “it was too late to turn back now”—that sexy is an inalienable part of who she is. Throughout her account of this kooky, messed-up, enviable, and often thrilling life, her humility (her sons "are true miracles, considering the gene pool") never fails her.

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 9780063226562

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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