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THE SEARCH FOR THE GENUINE

NONFICTION, 1970-2015

An essential installment in the Harrison canon.

The boozy gourmand and superb writer recounts a long life of misbehavior, fishing, books, and wandering.

“I excel at taking naps, pouring drinks, lighting my cigarettes, writing too many novels, and, some say, cooking,” writes Harrison (1937-2016) in this collection of magazine pieces and other oddments. All of those things are true, but the author also confesses to early troubles in childhood—e.g., when he left a hard-earned fishing rod in the driveway, where his father ran over it. Quoth Dad, “Get your head out of your ass, Jimmy,” to which, decades later, Harrison appends the rueful, “They’re still saying that.” The author had numerous specific loves, most of which he puts on show here: sturdy hunting dogs, fine shotguns, good company out on the chase, and, of course, the finer things of life, especially expensive wines and whiskeys. These coincide in several pieces, as when he recounts getting lost in the company of Philip Caputo and spending a dangerously cold night in the New Mexico mountains with grizzly bear whisperer Doug Peacock, misadventures made more palatable by an unending quaff of Bordeaux. Indeed, Harrison loves laughing at himself in episodes marked by pointed apothegms: “Of course, drugs and fishing don’t mix”; “I could live here,” he writes about walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, “though for reasons of claustrophobia it would have to be in a one-room cabin in the middle of the bridge.” Challenged at a book festival for his love of hunting, he delivered a stock response: “Perhaps I’m less evolved than you are.” Readers who don’t object to pages full of trout, elk, and day drinking will find the essays endlessly charming, and the more adventurous of them will want to retrace Harrison’s travels in places like the northerly canyons of the Yellowstone River and the Sandhills of Nebraska.

An essential installment in the Harrison canon.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8021-5721-8

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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TANQUERAY

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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LOVE, PAMELA

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.

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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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