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VIDAS

DEEP IN MEXICO AND SPAIN

An engaging coming-of-age account that explores manhood across cultural boundaries.

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A memoir chronicles a young man’s travels in Mexico and Spain.

In this book, Stanton recounts his experiences with the Spanish language and Spanish-speaking countries. The early chapters are set in his 1950s California childhood, where he learned both idiomatic Spanish and a sense of masculinity through his interactions with undocumented Mexican immigrants. When the author reached his teen years, he ventured into the seediness of Tijuana, Mexico, visiting local sex workers and conversing with them, losing his virginity in the process. Later, he spent time living in other parts of Mexico. After college, he made his first visit to Spain, where he stayed for a while, returning in later years. The book delves into the cultural and political aspects of his travels—for instance, Stanton takes note of the repression of Franco’s government during the author’s early years in Spain and contrasts it with the socio-economic changes he found on his post-divorce visit more than a decade later. The work also examines the lessons in community and identity, particularly what it means to be a man, that Stanton absorbed through his cultural exchanges. The author is a lyrical writer (“More than immigrants they were like swallows migrating to California from their winter roost in Jalisco”), adopting a tone that suits the work’s nostalgic mood. Descriptions of his participation in iconic events, such as the running of the bulls or his first bullfight, are elegant and stand up to the inevitable comparisons to Steinbeck and Hemingway, who makes his own appearances throughout the text. Stanton employs the second person in his memoir, an unusual stylistic choice (“Your room opened onto the light-filled patio”), though there are awkward detours into other point-of-view language that can be slightly jarring (“As we watched those corridas, your friend taught you most of what you know about the bulls and the men who meet them”). The female characters, while plentiful and active in the narrative, do tend to feel secondary to the volume’s very male perspective. But as a story focused on the lives and experiences of men, the book achieves its goal and provides an enjoyable reading experience.

An engaging coming-of-age account that explores manhood across cultural boundaries.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-949003-47-5

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Waterside Productions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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