Gracefully wrought essays imbued with a rare intimacy.



Astute observations on literature and art.

Poet, essayist, and biographer Crase, a MacArthur and Guggenheim fellow, has gathered more than 30 pieces published over the last 40 years that he describes as “affairs of attention and intellectual desire, rather than criticism.” Among those who merit his attention are poets John Ashbery, James Schuyler, Marianne Moore, and Lorine Niedecker; artists Fairfield Porter, Grace Hartigan, Larry Rivers, Eugene Leake, and Robert Dash; and Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose prescience and “persistent moral proximity” Crase roundly celebrates in several essays. Besides being appreciations, the pieces also serve as memoir and cultural history. Crase knew many of the individuals he writes about and was immersed in the communities in which they flourished. Crase met Ashbery, for example, when he was 28 and had not yet read the poet’s work. Needing someone to drive him around in upstate New York, Ashbery, then 45, enjoined Crase to serve as his chauffeur. “Our rides,” Crase recalls, “were exhilarating, not only for the miles we covered but because his conversation, so habitually casual and good natured, was also fearless. Each ride was a rolling preceptorial.” In some of the most affecting essays in the collection, Crase vibrantly delineates the friendships, affairs, collaborations, and financial infusions that made possible the New York School of poets and painters, centered on the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in Manhattan. The author offers a warm profile of British polymath Dwight Ripley, “linguist, poet, botanist, artist,” who became the gallery’s benevolent financial backer. An unusual involvement with an artist’s work came when Mark Milroy proposed to paint his portrait, a suggestion that at first inspired fear. “Portraits are aesthetically intensified perceptions,” Crase notes, “and intense perception makes people nervous.” Of the experience itself, Crase found that “being the object of Milroy’s perception, hours at a time, convinced me that the infamous ‘male gaze’ may be no fiction.”

Gracefully wrought essays imbued with a rare intimacy.

Pub Date: May 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64362-143-2

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Nightboat Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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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 28, 2022

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A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.


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. 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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