An absorbing look at an often misunderstood profession.

Celestial Bodies in Orbit

MEMOIRS OF THE UNKNOWN STRIPPER

A former stripper recounts her experiences on and off the stage.

Debut author Littlepage was a small-town girl who attended Catholic school and excelled academically, despite the fact that her parents were alcoholics and that her mother had a touch of tyranny in her, perhaps the result of her own frustrated aspirations. Littlepage eventually left home with her boyfriend, Eddie, and they headed to Cape Cod. Littlepage kept them afloat with her earnings as a waitress, but Eddie was a compulsive gambler and a criminal, as well as physically abusive. The author turned to stripping—doubling her income—and found the strength to leave Eddie and start anew. Stripping would remain her principal source of income for a decade—through several relationships, a marriage, an abortion, the tragic deaths of two close friends, and plenty of experimentation with drugs and alcohol. The author, aware that every dancer’s career has an early expiration date stamped upon it, started planning her departure from the stage, taking acting classes, and exploring new business opportunities, eventually finding she had a talent for organizing charity fundraisers. Along the way, there is plenty of drama—one night, a co-worker pulled a gun on her; another stripper confessed her attraction to her. The author’s remembrance is a philosophical one; there are numerous references to I Ching, the guidance she finds in the Wiccan view of nature, and her devotion to the study of alternative spirituality. The entire memoir turns on a peculiar literary device: Eve Littlepage (a nom de plume) contacts a writer, Stella Mars (who is a fictional character) to co-author her book. It’s not entirely clear what purpose this fictional element serves, but it does end up feeling peculiarly self-referential, like hearing someone talk about herself in the third person. Nevertheless, this is a thoughtful reflection on the psychology and stagecraft of stripping, as well as a commentary on the nature of modern female sexuality. Also, Littlepage’s life easily satisfies the most basic condition of the readable memoir: it is genuinely memorable.

An absorbing look at an often misunderstood profession.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-615-73554-2

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Littlepage Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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