A frank, well-intentioned but uneven account of volunteering in Peru.



A former Peace Corps worker recalls her time spent in 1960s Peru in this debut memoir.

Raised by devout Roman Catholic parents, LaTorre spent her early years in the cowboy town of Ismay, Montana, before relocating in her teens to California, where her social development “crept along at a slow creek’s pace.” Life changed in her 20s when the experience of living in Latin American cultures “awakened my body and soothed my restless soul.” In 1963, she joined a group of 20-something female students who spent their summer vacation “performing good works” among Mexico’s disadvantaged communities. Her time spent in Apaseo, where, among other tasks, she helped set up a library, spurred her to join the Peace Corps the following year. The memoir recounts her training in New York and Puerto Rico before being assigned to Peru with the intention of engaging in community development work. On her 22nd birthday, the author found herself journeying through the Andes Mountains on her way to the town of Abancay, where she helped provide health care and also fell in love with Antonio, a local college student who tested her Catholic beliefs regarding intimacy. LaTorre presents a forthright and candid voice. She openly discusses how she found Latin men “enticing” and a “constant distraction.” Yet despite this attraction, she was protective of her independence, influenced by the strong women she grew up around in Montana. But her commentary on gender roles in other societies is sometimes surprising. She writes: “Domestic issues might interest most of the town’s females, but food preparation, childcare, and who was dating whom didn’t always interest us. We couldn’t understand local females’ submissiveness to their men.” There is little consideration of the obstacles to women’s liberation outside of America. Descriptions of Indigenous people also rely on stereotypes of otherness: “Small, dark, leather-skinned Indians.” LaTorre’s story is one of a determined young woman keen to achieve her goals; her relationship with Antonio will have readers guessing how the romance will turn out. Illustrated with the author’s photographs, this bold memoir offers many rich details about Peru and the Peace Corps. But readers may find some of the author’s descriptions of the country’s Native societies lack nuance.

A frank, well-intentioned but uneven account of volunteering in Peru.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-717-3

Page Count: 328

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2020

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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 27, 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. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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