Remarkably well-done: a complex and warm insider’s take on a booming industry.

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STRIP CITY

A STRIPPER’S FAREWELL JOURNEY ACROSS AMERICA

Engaging memoir of a former stripper’s last fling with the profession.

A New York journalist and free spirit, Burana agreed to marry a handsome cowboy she met on a trip to Wyoming. Suddenly, settling down seemed impossible without examining the world of stripping where she had come of age, so Burana set about crafting a cross-country journey that would let her explore the profession that supported but eventually exhausted her. She prepares with a week of “stripper school” at the Pure Talent School of Dance, and then works in clubs from Colorado to Alaska. She reports on the business of stripping, her own stripping experience, dancers and their relationships, why men go to clubs, and what all this has to do with her. When she stops by the Exotic World Burlesque Museum in the California desert to get a sense of stripping’s history, she imparts her own, a story that takes her from Times Square to San Francisco’s bohemian scene. With appealing grace and humor, Burana sidesteps the pitfalls of writing about stripping—sensationalism, preachy moralism, self-righteousness—and instead ponders the historical and social complexities of such a ubiquitous, shadowy trade. With a deft touch, she answers the questions that you’d expect from a thoughtful stripper: How did you get into this? How does it feel? Don't you have any self-respect? And Burana is even-handed: for all the affirmative sisterhood-is-powerful moments, there is a flip side: the weariness of “stripper damage,” with its “self-hatred as wide and deep as the sea.” And always present is the pressure to remain glamorous—drilling out a belt buckle so it can be easily ripped open onstage, the requisite hours on the tanning bed, endless maintenance of hair and nails and mirrored velvet bikinis. Under all the camouflage, the author is entirely credible: When she asserts that “Stripping, at its best, feels like cheating death,” one might even nod in understanding.

Remarkably well-done: a complex and warm insider’s take on a booming industry.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-6790-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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