by Kirkland Hamill ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 14, 2020
A stunning, deeply satisfying story about how we outlive our upbringings.
A vivid and compelling portrait of a dysfunctional family.
For the first eight years of his life, Hamill and his two brothers lived like blue bloods. Their father’s family was “pure white-Anglo-Saxon-protestant, Mayflower-descendant, white-butler rich.” The only life they knew was filled with servants, private clubs, and luxurious New York real estate. But when his family’s “dormant demons were rustled from their slumber” and his parents divorced, the three boys moved to Bermuda with their mother, where she had grown up in a working-class family. The book, Hamill’s debut, is not a typical riches-to-rags reversal, though that’s a prominent theme. Instead, the author explores in visceral detail how children of addicted caregivers struggle to construct meaning, establish their own identities, and simply survive while living in the wake of a family illness. Hamill is a gifted storyteller, crafting scenes and dialogue that read like a riveting novel. There are casualties in this tale, both real and figurative, but there are also many triumphs. In his early 30s, the author embraced his sexuality as a gay man, a reckoning that arguably took a back seat to all the chaos and collateral damage that surrounded him. Though Hamill is unflinchingly honest about the flaws of all of the characters in the story (including himself), by the end, readers will have at least some affection for each one. The author absorbingly narrates a complicated story fraught with betrayal, abandonment, and grief, and he shows us—via his own recovery—that beauty, pain, and love can all coexist in the same space. “I started to see my mother as somebody caught in darkness,” he says, “doing whatever she could to steal glimpses of light, knowing they wouldn’t last for long. I saw how brave that was, and how sad.”A stunning, deeply satisfying story about how we outlive our upbringings.
Pub Date: July 14, 2020
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Avid Reader Press
Review Posted Online: April 25, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020
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by Walter Isaacson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.
To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 688
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 192
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022
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