An intimate glimpse into an important writer’s life.



A self-portrait culled from the Pulitzer Prize winner’s journals.

From her 65 journals and notebooks deposited at Emory University, unavailable to researchers until 2040, Walker (b. 1944) has selected entries from 1965 to 2000, documenting her rise as one of the most celebrated writers of her time, winner of the 1983 Pulitzer and National Book Award for The Color Purple, among many other awards. Introduced and annotated by critic and biographer Boyd, the volume chronicles Walker’s civil rights activism, marriage to a White Jewish lawyer, motherhood, divorce, affairs with men and women, blossoming sexuality, religion, money troubles, real estate ventures, and, not least, her writing career. At 21, a student at Sarah Lawrence, Walker wondered, “What am I really? And what do I want to do with me? Somehow,” she mused, “I know I shall never feel settled with myself and life until I have a profession I can love.” That profession became poet, novelist, and essayist. In 1968, her first poetry collection appeared, and two years later, a novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland. She became a sought-after speaker and teacher—“In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens,” the title essay of her collection of Womanist Prose, was first delivered as a talk. “My God, what do black women writers want?” she was often asked. “We want freedom. Freedom to be ourselves. To write the unwritable. To say the unsayable. To think the unthinkable.” Sadly, Walker realized that to be in the public eye meant being vulnerable to attack, smarting under vehement criticism of some fictional portrayals. One story, “Roselily,” was removed from a 10th grade standardized test in California, “considered anti-religious by the Coalition for Traditional Values, or some such….This is all so ignorant it’s hard to focus on it. Yet it’s tiring, too.” The well-populated volume features many of Walker’s notable friends, including Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis, and lovers who brought delight and, sometimes, despair. Readers will look forward to the planned second volume.

An intimate glimpse into an important writer’s life.

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7315-5

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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


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 28, 2022

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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