by Ava Chin ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2023
A lively memoir that limns a long family history and helps us understand the troubled history of our nation.
A Chinese American writer searches for roots not easily uncovered.
“My family is a noisy, bothersome bunch—bursting through the walls and hallways as I tried to doze; talking to me through the memories of old friends, eyes brimming with recollection like a teacup about to overflow; egging me on to continue….” So writes Chin, a fifth-generation Chinese American and lifelong New Yorker at the center of whose universe stands the street of her title. Lower Mott Street is a wonderland of food and culture, defined by “giant, elaborate meals of long, pan-fried egg noodles with sliced beef, chicken, pork, and verdant gai lan vegetables as long as my chopsticks,” among other delicacies. But life was not always so abundant. As Chin writes, her ancestors had to endure an extraordinary regime of racist laws that made clear they were not wanted. Coloring this past were official documents that were often misleading or indifferent, such that oral history proved to be much more trustworthy than “the historical record that is a fabulist fabrication.” An initial challenge was finding the father who effectively abandoned her family and learning why. From there, Chin explores ancestors who arrived more than a century and a half ago to build the transcontinental railroad, excluded from ordinary society by, among other things, being barred from testifying against Whites in court cases. Some ancestors were prosperous, some forced into indentured servitude, but all reduced by those racist laws to “paper people—flat, two-dimensional sheets of biographical fiction.” In this elegantly written, probing narrative, Chin adds weight and substance to those near caricatures, an act of filial homage that ends with the arresting image of “the mothers of Mott Street” revivified.A lively memoir that limns a long family history and helps us understand the troubled history of our nation.
Pub Date: April 25, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Penguin Press
Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023
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by Barbra Streisand ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.
When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 992
Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023
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More About This Book
SEEN & HEARD
A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 192
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022
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