Sincere, compelling and well-intentioned.

WINGS OF TRU LOVE

A WWII B17 BALL-TURRET GUNNER MEMOIR

Drinnon’s earnest account of serving in the Air Force during World War II.

Drinnon recounts his time with the tightknit crew of a Boeing B17G, nicknamed “Tru Love,” with whom he flew 34 combat missions in war-torn Europe. From his humble beginnings as a shy farmer’s son in Tennessee, Drinnon joins the Air Force against the wishes of his parents and is exposed to new people, new ways of thinking and new challenges. Through several twists of fate, he is assigned to the Tru Love crew, where he learns many valuable lessons in loyalty, bravery and trust. Drinnon serves as a gunner, and he presents an insider’s look at how it felt to spend so much time in a cramped, dangerous space. Especially interesting is his first experience of shooting down another plane: “Here I was, a barely twenty year-old man, yet still a twenty year-old kid faced with his first shooting gun battle who had never before fired on another human being. What should I do?...[W]hat would ‘they’ say if there is no ammunition used from my cans?” Unlike other Greatest Generation memoirs, Drinnon’s slim book is utterly without pretension, and he doesn’t glorify himself, his companions or the war. His humility and capacity for self-reflection make the book a compelling read, punctuated with admissions of battle fear and struggles to readjust to civilian life that are often absent from similar books. War as personal growth through exploration and emotion rather than aggression is a particularly intriguing theme, as Drinnon tells of small moments such as using a telephone and eating lobster for the first time. Prayers, luck and randomness also figure big, and the author chalks up many of his exploits to chance rather than patriotism or God. All of this makes for an original and heartwarming read. The book is augmented with numerous photographs, Army manuals and technical specs of the plane and its mechanics, which help the reader understand the occasional tech-heavy parts of the book. If Drinnon can be faulted for anything, it’s for sometimes skimming the surface, and the book could easily be a longer, more in-depth look at his experience. Though seemingly written primarily for the surviving members of the Tru Love crew, this book is sure to interest WWII and Air Force aficionados.

Sincere, compelling and well-intentioned.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2011

ISBN: 978-1465397751

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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