A captivating family account that delivers compelling, acutely observant writing.



A wife comes to terms with her husband’s troubled past in this memoir.

“You were a preservationist, and I needed preserving,” joked Vernon, Fairley’s future husband, reflecting on his motivation for asking her out on a date. When they met, Vern, who was 32 years the author’s senior, was struggling to cope with the tragic death of his 14-year-old son, Ben, who was shot accidentally while playing with a revolver. Fairley fell in love with Vern’s “quirkiness”; they married, and, three months later, on her 25th birthday, the author discovered that she was pregnant. Soon after, Vern announced that the son of a recently deceased friend would be coming to stay with them temporarily. Taking care of 11-year-old Stanislaus was not what Fairley had expected during pregnancy. The situation became yet more fractious when Stanislaus was found to be a disturbed child, setting his bed afire and stabbing the family dog. With Vern’s health in decline, the stress of caring for Stanislaus forced the couple to reassess their marriage. The author strives to understand her husband’s inner struggles and, in doing so, unpacks some startling “sealed memories.” Fairley’s memoir is part mystery, leaving the author (and the audience) to guess at Vern’s true motives for taking in Stanislaus. Fairley’s slow reveal makes for absorbing reading. Throughout the volume, she maps her shifting emotions with a candid clarity: “I felt myself slump. In that moment, I realized another reason I had resisted Stan’s presence so fiercely: time was a commodity in my relationship with Vern.” The author has an occasional tendency to share extraneous information. Describing their dog, Chippie, she notes: “He’d developed a severe anal sac problem and would scoot along the floor, leaving oily anal juice on everything.” Fairley’s scrupulous attention to detail is put to better use when capturing the ambience of small-town Ohio: “I loved the screened-in porch, the way it overlooked the old footbridge with the cast-iron street lamp….The old furnace pumped out heat that smelled of kerosene in the winter.” At its best, the author’s writing is evocative, and her story is both unique and intriguing. Despite the sporadic digressions, this is a book that many readers will find difficult to put down.

A captivating family account that delivers compelling, acutely observant writing.

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64742-067-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


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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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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