A chimeric remembrance that delves into the legacy of Romania’s troubled past.

OUR VOICES

Radovan’s debut family memoir explores intergenerational trauma against the backdrop of postwar Romania.

At the time of the Romanian Revolution in 1989, the author was a 7-year-old, red-tie–wearing detachment commander of her elementary school’s Communist youth organization. One day, the photograph of the president that hung in the classroom—before which the young author had led her classmates in the national anthem—had been replaced by a picture of the Virgin Mary, and the reality of their previous existence soon became clear: “I hadn’t known we needed help; that we were poor; that our president was an evil dictator,” writes Radovan. “I thought he was our loving father. I thought we were the richest country in the world.” In this book, Radovan, a writer and educator, shares stories from both sides of the divide—the Romania under Communist rule and the one that came after—drawing not only on her own memories, but on those of her mother, Mia, whose life was split between Communist and post-Communist governance, and her grandfather Iuliu, a political dissident who died shortly after being released from a Communist prison. Using diary entries, poems, photographs, and essays, the author cobbles together a family history out of fragments, effectively reflecting the shattered nature of lives under and after authoritarianism. Radovan’s writing has a lyrical quality throughout, whether it takes the form of poetry or prose, offering readers an incantatory blend of the remembered, the overheard, and the imagined: “I imagine my mother as a child, sitting at a desk, reading the books that I will later discover in our home library, all the books that the censors had failed to ban. I imagine her, my aunt, my grandmother, sitting around the kitchen table, at the dim light of the oil lamp, during electricity cuts.” The variation in structure and voice makes for an engaging read throughout even if the overall narrative sometimes feels ephemeral. It’s an impressionistic work but one that manages to communicate the sting of oppression and loss.

A chimeric remembrance that delves into the legacy of Romania’s troubled past.

Pub Date: March 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-80313-073-6

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Review Posted Online: April 19, 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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