A poignant and engaging account that features some pithy advice delivered with strength and panache.

SAY WHAT NEEDS TO BE SAID

In her second memoir, a writer shares her commitment to appreciating each moment, a philosophy strengthened when she returns to New York state to be near her dying father.

Independent, passionate about all things outdoorsy, and devoted to family and friends, Wheeler embraced life’s opportunities and setbacks, determined to have no regrets. Her “Friend Basket” was filled with a diverse assortment of people from around the country with whom she was close. And she was always open to adding someone new. After living out west for about 25 years, Wheeler decided she was ready to shake things up. She sold her catering business in Colorado and headed east: “After a couple of successful careers and not-as-successful relationships that ended, my curvy path led back to the state I grew up in.” That is not where she had intended to land. First, she went to the Florida Keys. New friends and intriguing possibilities kept her on the move. But when her father’s progressive supranuclear palsy, a degenerative disease with neither a cure nor a meaningful treatment, seriously compromised his physical condition, she knew she had to be with him for however much time he had left. She moved into her brother’s house in upstate New York, one mile from where her father and stepmother lived. Wheeler’s time frame vacillates, which sometimes makes it difficult for readers to follow the linear trajectory of her life. But this is a minor complaint. Each vignette or chapter, some as short as a few paragraphs, immerses readers in the emotions of the experience, whether it’s riding the rapids or sitting with her father in a nursing home. Her prose is at once eloquent and conversational; both sharp and gently humorous. There is a fierceness in her important rule—don’t leave until tomorrow what can be said today. The chance may not come again. Despite her obvious grief and anger over watching her father waste away, she was demonstrably grateful to have been there when he needed her. As she shows in these pages, she certainly needed to be at his side.

A poignant and engaging account that features some pithy advice delivered with strength and panache.

Pub Date: May 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-09-674453-5

Page Count: 177

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 2, 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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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