A contemplative memoir that talks about abuse and its aftermath.

POETIC LICENSE

A MEMOIR

A poet’s daughter examines her father’s legacy.

The American poet Richard Eberhart, who died in 2005 at the age of 101, was the recipient of many of the literary world’s greatest accolades. A long-term poet-in-residence at Dartmouth College, an inductee of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the United States Poet Laureate under Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, and the recipient of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Eberhart was a highly lauded poet of his age. As his daughter, Cherington, recounts in her memoir, he operated at the center of a large literary circle that included such legendary poets as Allen Ginsberg, Richard Wilbur, and Anne Sexton. The author recounts her own novel experiences with these poets while also reflecting on her father and the challenges that she says that she faced after a childhood spent under his roof. Cherington’s portrait of her father is unsparing, and it includes a disturbing description of an instance of sexual abuse when she was 17; she also writes of other, earlier instances when she was physically abused by a family friend. Cherington writes that she worked throughout her life to process these events in addition to trauma associated with her mother’s epilepsy, and she recounts this effort with grace and clarity. Drawing from her own experiences as well as Eberhart’s ample archive at Dartmouth’s Rauner Library, the author offers compelling anecdotes and analysis. Her writing on her mother’s illness is particularly potent, as Cherington interweaves scenes of childhood terror with an adult awareness of the stifling silence that made her fear impossible to soothe. Her narrative is occasionally muddled by scenes of her professional life as a consultant and moments of awkward conversation; one such instance occurs in an otherwise charming scene in which the author goes dancing with a romantic partner. At the end of the evening, she whispers in his ear the clichéd phrase, “How’d we ever find each other in this godforsaken town?” Despite this, Cherington’s memoir presents a persuasive account of her effort to reckon with the past.

A contemplative memoir that talks about abuse and its aftermath.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-711-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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

TANQUERAY

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 28, 2022

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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