by Paul Dye ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 14, 2020
Dye’s memoir is a balanced mix of moments both banal and breathtaking.
A passionate look at the U.S. space shuttle program through the life’s work of the longest-serving flight director in NASA’s history.
As with many of his peers in the space and aeronautical industries, Dye’s occupational choice was inspired by SF literature and the romantic longing to live out such cosmic possibilities in real life. The author was among the earthbound heroes at NASA flight control who helped guide space shuttles through all aspects of a mission. A former scuba instructor who studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Minnesota, the author fondly recalls in scrupulous detail the highlights of his three-decade career as a top NASA flight controller. He combines folksy anecdotes (he uses the term “folks” a lot) with esoteric mechanical details to convey how these technologically remarkable yet fragile, temperamental shuttles worked—or sometimes didn’t. Although Dye’s impressive recall of every aspect of his job history is largely both engaging and informative, he is overly indulgent with the aeronautical shoptalk, severely testing general readers’ tolerance for acronyms (a common pitfall that both space and military memoirs share). On the whole, it’s the author’s simple anecdotes about everyday working life at mission control that make for the most readable, entertaining sections. For instance, Dye’s recounting of the 1990s Shuttle-Mir program, a famously cooperative gesture between Russia and the U.S., is an insider’s look at how two countries’ very different work philosophies merged to successfully complete an unprecedented mission. We also read about the unforgettable time employee negligence led to the spontaneous combustion of the office coffee maker, creating widespread panic among the caffeine-addicted mission control employees. Most insightful are Dye’s reflections on the 1986 Challenger disaster and the problematic mission control culture that led to this infamously televised catastrophe.Dye’s memoir is a balanced mix of moments both banal and breathtaking.
Pub Date: July 14, 2020
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: April 21, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020
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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.
Awards & Accolades
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
Page Count: 192
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022
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by Britney Spears ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 24, 2023
Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.
Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.
Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023
Page Count: 288
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023
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