An often fun account of a spontaneous trip through Europe.


A debut travel memoir recounts a young man’s experiences hitchhiking through Europe in 1970.

In the spring of 1970, Casper landed in Paris. The 21-year-old had a year’s worth of experience at a Chicago graphic design firm, but—inspired in part by the novels of Hemingway and W. Somerset Maugham—he decided to move to Paris and get a job at a prestigious ad agency. “I’d create great ads,” he fantasized. “I’d probably be around beautiful French models so often that I would get to know most of them and date some. If you wanted to find me, you’d check Paris’s best restaurants, cafes or nightclubs.” Needless to say, things didn’t go exactly as planned. After only a week, his job prospects already foiled, he came across an unusual business opportunity: importing sheepskin coats from Afghanistan. All Casper had to do was take the Orient Express to Kabul, buy a bunch of coats for $10 a pop, and sell them in London for $200 each. He and a friend booked tickets on the train, but they only made it as far as Istanbul before the plan fell apart. Yet the author’s escapades were not at an end. As a “Road Knight,” his improvising and hitchhiking continued through some 20 countries over the span of several months, meeting fascinating women, exploring treacherous terrain, and landing in a Dutch jail. Casper is a practiced storyteller, and he relates his experiences in conversational prose. At one point, he was on the island of Formentera, near Ibiza, Spain: “I started to become somewhat unnerved by the situation. I reminded myself that I was on a strange island in the middle of nowhere, following a group of strangers in the dark to an unknown destination, all to take part in some kind of ancient ritual that was sure to be at the very least a bit bizarre.” Interspersed throughout the book are poems by the author on related subjects, like “Paris at Night” and “The Road.” The story moves quickly thanks to Casper’s general impulsiveness, and there are some enjoyable anecdotes here. But within the context of travel writing, the memoir is not terribly sociological or emotionally revelatory. The strongest sense readers will feel by the book’s end is a desire to have a similar adventure themselves.

An often fun account of a spontaneous trip through Europe.

Pub Date: July 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4999-0563-2

Page Count: 426

Publisher: Infinity Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2020

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


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

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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