A tragic, cautionary account communicated with tender conviction.

WHAT LURKS IN THE WOODS

STRUGGLE AND HOPE IN THE MIDST OF CHRONIC ILLNESS—A MEMOIR

A devoted wife and mother searched for answers when her spouse experienced cognitive issues in this sensitive debut memoir by Bell.

As an MIT graduate working as an executive within the medical device industry, Bell was well accustomed to problem-solving. Yet when her husband, Russ, a computer scientist and electrical engineer, began acting uncharacteristically, immediate answers weren’t forthcoming. The couple’s two children tiptoed around to avoid disturbing their father. Concerns heightened when Russ, a dexterous thinker, struggled to operate the family’s alarm system. Medical tests showed little out of the ordinary, yet Russ’ cognitive functioning continued to decline. After visiting numerous physicians, Bell struggled to believe the diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s. The author’s perseverance led to Russ’ being diagnosed with and treated for chronic Lyme disease. The illness was discovered too late, however, and required residential care. Drawn from journal entries that Bell wrote to “cope with the chaos,” this memoir maintains a powerful sense of urgency. When considering leaving Russ because of his atypical behavior, the author writes: “I left work early to meet the realtor, but doubt surrounded me. Can I do this? I’ve been with him for so long. Can I leave him? Can I raise the kids on my own? Has it come to this?” The stylistic approach is simple and immediate. Bell avoids the choppiness found in many memoirs developed from journals, and her emotions remain honest and thoughtful: “The guilt barraging my conscience eased, and for the first time in a while, I felt free.” Readers may be mistaken in thinking that Bell’s memoir will interest only those whose lives have been affected by Lyme disease. In truth, the book is a passionate cri de coeur that encourages anyone faced with illness to explore beyond “symptomatic diagnoses to find root causes.”

A tragic, cautionary account communicated with tender conviction.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-955711-01-2

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Stonebrook Pub.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

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

TANQUERAY

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 28, 2022

Did you like this book?

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

SO HELP ME GOD

The former vice president reflects warmly on the president whose followers were encouraged to hang him.

Pence’s calm during the Trump years has been a source of bemusement, especially during the administration’s calamitous demise. In this bulky, oddly uncurious political memoir, Pence suggests the source of his composure is simple: frequent prayer and bottomless patience for politicking. After a relatively speedy recap of his personal and political history in Indiana—born-again Christian, conservative radio host, congressman, governor—he remembers greeting the prospect of serving under Trump with enthusiasm. He “was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement,” he writes. Recounting how the Trump-Pence ticket won the White House in 2016, he recalls Trump as a fundamentally hardworking president, albeit one who often shot from the hip. Yet Pence finds Trump’s impulsivity an asset, setting contentious foreign leaders and Democrats off-balance. Soon they settled into good cop–bad cop roles; he was “the gentler voice,” while “it was Trump’s job to bring the thunder.” Throughout, Pence rationalizes and forgives all sorts of thundering. Sniping at John McCain? McCain never really took the time to understand him! Revolving-door staffers? He’s running government like a business! That phone call with Ukraine’s president? Overblown! Downplaying the threat Covid-19 presented in early 2020? Evidence, somehow, of “the leadership that President Trump showed in the early, harrowing days of the pandemic.” But for a second-in-command to such a disruptive figure, Pence dwells little on Trump’s motivations, which makes the story’s climax—Trump’s 2020 election denials and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—impossible for him to reconcile. How could such a selfless patriot fall under the sway of bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists? God only knows. Chalk it up to Pence's forgiving nature. In the lengthy acknowledgments he thanks seemingly everybody he’s known personally or politically; but one name’s missing.

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781982190330

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more