This powerful work mixes an AIDS account with a history of a spouse’s scandalous behavior.

NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON THE TIDE

(OR, HOW I MARRIED A LYING, PSYCHOPATHIC WANNABE-MURDERER AND KINDA LIVED TO TELL)

In this memoir, a writer chronicles his experiences during the AIDS crisis and his husband’s double life, revealing multiple affairs.

Edwards-Stout sets the tone of this book by sharing the story of reading his “civil-union” husband’s email in 2001 only to discover that he was planning to leave him for someone else. Readers will expect the sordid tale of this philandering husband, whom the author refers to as “Eyes,” to follow this opening scene. But the audience must wait for further revelations about Eyes. Instead, the author spends the first half of the memoir recounting growing up in Southern California as a gay man in the 1970s and trying to break into acting in Hollywood after dabbling in theater at UCLA. Telling tales of hobnobbing with stars from that period like Loni Anderson, Jennifer Beals, and Darren McGavin, Edwards-Stout also recounts meeting actors like Mariska Hargitay and Jack Black before they became famous. The author later turned into an activist, working for AIDS Project Los Angeles during the height of the health disaster. The chapters about caring for his lover Shane as he died from the disease in 1995 are the most poignant parts of the work. Edwards-Stout peppers his story with various “Life Lessons” he has picked up throughout his journey that also deftly display his sense of humor. For example: “Never underestimate the impact that walking into a gym shower, only to witness a former boss shaving his balls, can have.” The second part of the engrossing memoir finally divulges Eyes’ outrageous indiscretions: multiple affairs that had him switching out his wedding ring as well as fabricating chemotherapy treatments. The author actually offers two illuminating books here: the moving story of being a gay man in Los Angeles during the AIDS catastrophe and the shocking litany of betrayals by his husband, the father of their adopted son.

This powerful work mixes an AIDS account with a history of a spouse’s scandalous behavior.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9839837-5-0

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Circumspect Press

Review Posted Online: April 25, 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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