A chatty, quick-witted portrait of a complicated, tormented man.

DOWN AND OUT IN PARADISE

THE LIFE OF ANTHONY BOURDAIN

Like its subject, this razzmatazz biography zips along nicely.

After writing successful biographies on such colorful personages as Ty Cobb and Butch Cassidy, Leerhsen takes on “crash test dummy extraordinaire Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018), who “didn’t hide his scars and other imperfections as most celebrities do.” With zesty verve and material from more than 80 interviews, the author dramatically unfolds an entertaining, ultimately tragic tale. A “comic book obsessed nudnik,” Bourdain was born in Manhattan on his literary hero’s birthday (George Orwell) and grew up in New Jersey. Deeply influenced by Hunter S. Thompson, “Angry Anthony” was raised in a household under the “smothering chokehold of love and normalcy,” as he wrote in Medium Raw. Traveling with his parents in France, he had his “Madeleine moment” when he ate his first oyster. Or did he? According to Leerhsen, Bourdain was quite adept at tweaking his own bio. After spending summers in Provincetown working in restaurants, the college dropout attended the Culinary Institute of America. Though undisciplined and often drug-addled, he learned discipline at CIA as well as a “bare-knuckled philosophy of human relations.” In 1978, he went to New York City to write fiction and got a job cooking at the Rainbow Room. Leerhsen deftly works his way through Bourdain’s many cooking gigs as he climbed up the ladder while developing his belief that he could “perform a kind of alchemy that would somehow meld cooking with the twangy-angry punk music he held so dear.” On April 12, 1999, the New Yorker published Bourdain’s popular article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This: A New York Chef Spills Some Trade Secrets,” which “hit all the tetchy talking points that would make him first a best-selling author” and a star with Kitchen Confidential. There followed his many popular TV shows, which “would get richer, more nuanced, and also sadder as time passed.” Pair this with Tom Vitale’s In the Weeds and Laurie Woolever’s Bourdain.

A chatty, quick-witted portrait of a complicated, tormented man.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982-14044-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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

TANQUERAY

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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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

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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