by Garrett Hongo ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 15, 2022
A memoir of self-discovery via homage to the richness of sound.
The music of a poet’s life.
Hongo, a professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oregon, recounts his life through his evolving love of music and his obsession with the audio equipment he lusted after in order to get the precise sound he desired. Fifteen years ago, he recalls, when a CD player broke, he asked a friend’s advice about getting a replacement. With a newfound passion for opera, he was particularly interested in finding the best sound quality for that art form. What he discovered was a world of possibilities that honed his ear and his taste. He looked first for “romance and warmth,” then “refinement and tonal purity,” and, later—as he learned the esoteric jargon of audiophiles—“soundstaging, air, and bloom.” As the author notes, “stereo sound can be so compelling it displaces the real and captures your soul.” A Hawaii-born Japanese American, Hongo moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was 6 and grew up in a house surrounded with music. He began collecting LPs and 45s as a teenager, listening to folk, rock, and, in high school, rhythm and blues, introduced to him by his Black classmates. Music throbs in the background throughout this spirited memoir, as Hongo remembers his teenage friendships and crushes, experience of racial discrimination from his peers, love affairs, travel, and mentors—poet Cid Corman, for one, whom he met in Kyoto in 1973. The author pays tribute to his late father, who himself built, tested, and traded audio equipment, and his laconic teacher Charles Wright, whose records he listened to when he housesat. Hongo imbues the book with the “churning waves of new, confusing terminology” that he learned as he searched for equipment—technical terms that may be daunting to general readers. Along the way, the author offers a history of the invention of the vacuum tube, amplifiers, and the various permutations of the phonograph.A memoir of self-discovery via homage to the richness of sound.
Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022
Page Count: 544
Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021
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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.
Awards & Accolades
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
Page Count: 192
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022
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by Pamela Anderson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 31, 2023
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
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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