by Jennifer Lunden ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 9, 2023
An alarming chronicle of catastrophic chronic illness and a passionate plea for health care reform.
A writer and social worker charts her harrowing descent into mysterious physical illness.
What is now more popularly known as chronic fatigue syndrome was a complete anomaly to Lunden when, in 1989, at age 21, she became ill six months after relocating from Canada to Maine. Her symptoms included lassitude, exhaustion, headaches, and deep depression. A mononucleosis diagnosis brought little relief since her chronic weakness persisted so intensely that she could barely hold a pen to write in her diary. In 1988, the “wicked flu that never went away” received its official name: chronic fatigue syndrome. With limited resources for regular physician visits, the author became disheartened and even suicidal. At 26, Lunden discovered the biography of mid-19th-century diarist and social critic Alice James, sister to novelist Henry and psychologist William, who developed a fatigue that crippled most of her bodily systems. Lunden drew immediate correlations between James’ debilitating medical ailment—first misclassified as hysteria, then neurasthenia—and her own ordeal. With a detective’s persistence, the author began intensive research into potential causes, including chemical toxins and stress emergencies. She dug into the work of immunologists, toxicologists, and infectious disease specialists, past to present, who studied CFS, and her investigation broadened her perspective about not only overlooked medical ailments, but the current problematic state of American health care in general. Throughout, Lunden deftly interweaves her story with that of James. After producing such an exhaustive survey of disease and disorder, the author’s cynicism is understandable, and she criticizes physicians who dismissed her with depression, just as James’ doctors had mischaracterized her symptoms as female hysteria. Lunden shines a sobering light on CFS, its evolution and misinterpretations, and its increasing prevalence within the general population. Blending theory and memoir, the author personifies her struggle for wellness and its associated costs and consequences.An alarming chronicle of catastrophic chronic illness and a passionate plea for health care reform.
Pub Date: May 9, 2023
Page Count: 464
Publisher: Harper Wave
Review Posted Online: March 10, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023
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by Walter Isaacson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.
To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 688
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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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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