Compelling reading about what is a depressingly evergreen societal ill.



A journalist and social worker shares stories of how a group of flood channel–dwelling homeless people found their way back to society.

In this oral-history follow-up to Beneath the Neon, O’Brien’s examination of homelessness in subterranean Las Vegas, he chronicles how one group of homeless people were able to leave tunnel life behind. The author structures each of the chapters around a specific question, to which he elicited responses from men and women who had survived everything from poverty to substance abuse during their time underground. His subjects ranged from teenagers to people in their 60s and came from a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds. They included drug addicts, military veterans, and ex-cons, many of whom were survivors of dysfunctional or violent childhoods or some other traumatic or personally debilitating event. Two of the most intriguing figures O'Brien interviewed include Szmauz, a young musician from "a loving family in the mountains of southern New Hampshire,” and Ande, “who has a doctorate in organizational behavior and human factors [and] lived in the drains for seven years, the last while battling breast cancer.” O'Brien asked his interviewees questions that encouraged them to discuss such topics as their childhoods and adolescent and adult years; how they became homeless; and how they managed to navigate the "dangerous curves…hairpin turns…roadblocks and detours" that they faced on a daily basis. Without exception, each of the author’s interviewees have faced significant obstacles. Many, like Becky, Iron, and Manny, backslid into self-destructive behaviors (notes Iron, “I do the least amount of wrong I can. That’s the simplest way to put it”); one, Jazz, lost his beloved girlfriend to a tunnel flood. Against the odds, all found a way back to sobriety (or close to it) and a more secure life. Powerful and relentlessly honest, the interviews explode myths surrounding homelessness while promoting compassionate views of the growing number of homeless Americans.

Compelling reading about what is a depressingly evergreen societal ill.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949481-42-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Central Recovery Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • 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

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Did you like this book?

A juicy story with some truly crazy moments, yet Anderson's good heart shines through.


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

Did you like this book?