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AFFLICTION

GROWING UP WITH A CLOSETED GAY DAD

A deeply moving personal remembrance.

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A debut memoir about family secrets and how love can endure in many different forms.

Hall spent much of her youth looking for even the smallest signs of physical affection between her parents. Although she knew the story of their romantic meeting by heart, she had a persistent uneasiness regarding their marriage, exacerbated by her father’s unexplained absences. In addition, she experienced chronic night terrors and, later, suffered from constant insecurity after she became a young mother. Then, one day, she found out some new information. In this memoir, Hall details the profound impact of her father’s coming out to her as gay in 1975 and how it shed light on what she saw as the mystery of her parents’ marriage. But the more her father revealed about his sexuality, including his account of a “love at first sight” relationship with another man and how “gleeful” he felt to “unburden himself” to his daughter (“his words spilled out of his mouth with a disturbingly delirious joy”), the more she felt burdened by keeping his secret—even from her own mother, as her parents were still married. Soon, she began to distrust her own partners and had her own secret affairs. But as her parents neared the ends of their lives, Hall began to understand the bond they shared, which finally gave her comfort. Hall’s prose is accessible as she guides readers from her parents’ early courtship to the final moments she spent with each of them. Despite the sadness and confusion she faced in her childhood—which also included the untimely loss of a family member—Hall is careful not to veer into hyperbole in this memoir. For example, when she describes her nightmares, she is matter-of-fact to chilling effect: “In a recurring one, I was suffocating under a pillow. In another, electrical wires hovered over me. In both versions, I expected to die.” Later, she effectively uses the closet metaphor to describe her own behavior: “My self-awareness in my early thirties didn’t allow me to see a connection between the dissolution of my father’s closet walls and the fortification of my own.”

A deeply moving personal remembrance.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64-742124-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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