Sharply observant, contemplative writing that captures the buzz of hitchhiking.

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NOBODY HITCHHIKES ANYMORE

A former journalist sets out to reexperience the hitchhiking adventures of his past in this absorbing travel memoir.

In 1978, Griffin-Nolan, accompanied by his childhood friend Joe, hitchhiked from New York to San Francisco and back. Since it was one of the “finest educational and recreational experiences” he’d experienced, he decided, 40 years later, to do it again. Joe, among others, tried to convince him to abandon the idea, arguing that hitchhiking was no longer safe. In 2018, the author set out alone from his home near Syracuse, New York. Progress was uncertain at first; a deputy sheriff stopped him and said that hitchhiking is illegal in New York. But the author soon began to pick his way west, fueled by the benevolence of drivers who responded to his cardboard sign: “#NobodyHitchhikesAnymore.” The trip takes in the thousands of wind turbines of the Midwest, Salt Lake City, and the Rockies before culminating as the author approaches San Francisco. Along the way, Griffin-Nolan ponders the ways the road and those he met on it have changed since the late ’70s. Griffin-Nolan’s writing crackles with an energy for adventure: “The only way to convert today’s uncertainty into tomorrow’s story is to get out there and live it.” His writing style is almost photographic, offering keenly observed snapshots of the lives of others. In a Peoria Greyhound station populated by the city’s addicts, he witnesses a woman trying to calm a “troubled mother-to-be”: “Into an audio landscape layered with rumbling moans of withdrawal and a chain of psychotic call-and-response dialogues, this serene lady whispers enchantments.” The memoir’s tight focus on individuals means that the sweeping vistas of America’s landscapes are sometimes overlooked, but this does not detract from an intelligently written memoir that documents how America is changing: “The disappearance of hitchhiking and the rise of the gated community seem part of the same thing. Fear leads to isolation leads to more fear.” Griffin-Nolan is acutely aware of America’s current troubles, focusing particularly on “evidence of empowered and emboldened racism.” Yet his unswerving faith in the kindness of strangers is uplifting, and his intrepid spirit will encourage others to take to the road.

Sharply observant, contemplative writing that captures the buzz of hitchhiking.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-57869-038-1

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Rootstock Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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