THE TIMES I KNEW I WAS GAY

A heartwarming, delightful memoir of self-discovery.

A London-based illustrator’s graphic memoir of embracing her sexual orientation.

“Growing up,” writes Crewes, “I felt like I had a secret deep inside of me.” As an adolescent, she “liked Goths, rock music, and anything spooky,” and she became “obsessed” with Willow, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer character who later came out as gay. In secondary school, the author began to feel the pressure to assimilate. Like the girls she eventually befriended, Crewes paired off with boys, especially those with whom she shared common interests such as anime and manga. By the time she was 16 and in a “real relationship,” Crewes felt emotionally and physically unable to have sex with her boyfriend. After they broke up, the author decided that it was time to “reinvent myself.” She began a diet and exercise regimen to make herself “cooler.” Only much later did she realize her efforts served as a “subconscious way to redirect myself from the fact that I was gay.” She made her first attempt at coming out during her first year of university only to return to “heteronormativity” the next day. Two years later she came out “another four times,” all while navigating a messy path through heterosexual relationships and counseling for mysterious panic attacks. “ ‘Coming out’ is frequently described as a definitive and singular thing,” she writes. “But it didn’t happen like that for me.” When Crewes definitively came out, “I felt like I’d been washed clean.” Yet as she discovered, the journey of learning about queer culture and finding a fulfilling relationship had only begun. Crewes presents a spare primary narrative that she fleshes out using comic book–style line drawings to illustrate characters and episodes. The end result is a charming, accessible story about self-acceptance that everyone—especially people struggling with their sexuality—can enjoy.

A heartwarming, delightful memoir of self-discovery.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982147-10-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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  • New York Times Bestseller

TANQUERAY

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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