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THE FLAG, THE CROSS, AND THE STATION WAGON

A GRAYING AMERICAN LOOKS BACK AT HIS SUBURBAN BOYHOOD AND WONDERS WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED

A reasonable if perhaps quixotic plea for the boomers to rise from the couch and get back to work fixing their messes.

The prolific writer and activist finds some of the causes of our societal meltdown in the idyllic suburbs of his youth.

“We were better consumers than citizens,” writes McKibben of his generation, the original counterculturalists who mounted rebellions against the war in Vietnam, racial injustice, and inequalities of many kinds. What happened? Well, those suburban kids took their detachments from cities and communities and extended them into the hyperindividualism of today, its governing motto “you’re not the boss of me.” McKibben capably picks apart long-ago history to find present themes. He looks deeply into the role of his hometown, Lexington, Massachusetts, in firing the revolutionary “shot heard ’round the world” only to discover that even there, slavery existed until well into the 19th century. The town may have been one of the first to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday even though it was, as McKibben writes, “overwhelmingly white,” but it was also sharply divided in climacteric moments such as the Vietnam War. The author locates many of these divisions in the present culture, many owing to the “generation that grew up in those suburbs in those years.” Sure, they may have played in the same creek and the same fields, but many of them voted for Donald Trump and have zero interest in paying higher taxes to address issues like the climate crisis. McKibben finds hope in the thought that some of his generation’s contrarian ardor can be rekindled, which is pleasing yet a little unconvincing. Even he allows, in this well-constructed narrative, that the odds are long. “For me,” he writes, “the scariest thing about the last forty years, even more than the rising temperature, was the ascension of the libertarian idea that the individual matters far more than the society an individual inhabits.”

A reasonable if perhaps quixotic plea for the boomers to rise from the couch and get back to work fixing their messes.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-82359-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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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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