FAITH, HOPE AND CARNAGE

A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

The Australian alt-rock icon talks at length about the relationship between faith, death, and art.

Like many touring musicians stalled during the pandemic, Cave pursued an autobiographical book project while in quarantine. But rather than write a standard memoir, he instead consented to a book of extensive interviews with U.K. arts journalist O’Hagan, photography critic for the Guardian and a feature writer for the Observer. Cave chose this approach in order to avoid standard rock-star patter and to address grittier, more essential matters. On that front, he has plenty of material to work with. Much of the book focuses on his 15-year-old son Arthur, who died from an accidental fall off a cliff in 2015. The loss fueled Cave’s 2019 album, Ghosteen, but Cave sees the connection between life and art as indirect, involving improvisation, uncertainty, and no small amount of thinking about religion. “The loss of my son is a condition; not a theme,” he tells O’Hagan. Loss is a constant in these conversations—during the period when they were recorded, Cave’s mother also died, as did his former band mate Anita Lane. Yet despite that, this is a lively, engrossing book energized by Cave’s relentless candor—and sometimes counterintuitive thinking—about his work and his demons. His well-documented past heroin addiction, he says, “fed into my need for a conservative and well-ordered life.” Grief, he suggests, is surprisingly clarifying: “We become different. We become better.” Throughout, he talks about the challenges and joys of songwriting and improvisation (mostly around Carnage, the 2021 album he recorded with band mate Warren Ellis during this period) and about the comfort he gets answering questions from fans and strangers on his website. O’Hagan knows Cave’s work well, but he avoids fussy discographical queries and instead pushes Cave toward philosophical elaborations, which he’s generally game for.

A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60737-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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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

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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