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THE WOUNDS THAT BIND US

A scruffy take on female adventure travel.

A harrowing memoir about a mother who set out to visit former war zones in a Land Rover with her 3-year-old daughter.

When she was 16, Shinn lost both her legs below the knee after an initially misdiagnosed bout of bacterial meningitis that left her with a large malpractice settlement from the hospital. Fitted with prostheses but missing the kind of running that had given structure to her high school life, she took up off-road driving. In her late 20s, in 2001, divorced and with a young child, she decided to spend some of her settlement on a trip with her daughter, Celie, to raise awareness of the impact of land mines. Her plan was to visit Bosnia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Vietnam, and El Salvador. After she had spent a year in England interning at a Land Rover training school, she and a friend drove her Land Rover through Bosnia, leaving Celie with the girl's father. After that, she and Celie spend the rest of their time in a little town in Greece, where Shinn got pregnant. The narrative alternates between Shinn's misadventures during the trip, some of which are bound to leave readers worrying about Celie's welfare, and her memories of the past, when she was raised by an adoptive family she describes as abusive. While readers may disapprove of some of Shinn’s actions, she gives us plenty of memorable scenes and characters, including an overnight stay in a brothel, the friends she made and lost along the way, her run-ins with the law, and her near-death experiences while precariously driving the Land Rover. To the author’s credit, she doesn't pretend to have accomplished more than she did, and she doesn't sugarcoat her many mistakes. Readers may not want to follow in her footsteps, but they will never be bored with her as a companion.

A scruffy take on female adventure travel.

Pub Date: June 1, 2023

ISBN: 9781952271861

Page Count: 296

Publisher: West Virginia Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2023

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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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