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MARGINAL MAN

LIFE OF EMILIO GOGGIO

A captivating blend of personal biography and world history.

Brown’s biography chronicles the life of Emilio Goggio, an Italian American educator who dedicated his life to the preservation and promotion of Italian culture abroad.

In 1885, Emilio Goggio was born in Incisa Belbo, a small village in Piedmont, Italy, and grew up in the atmosphere of patriotic fervor that followed Italian unification, an experience that profoundly shaped his attachment to his idealized native country. Awash in rhapsodic nationalism, he was devastated when, at the age of 14, he was sent to Boston to be reunited with his father, Francesco, who had left Italy to start a hat-manufacturing business in the United States. Francesco had departed his home country the year his son was born, and Goggio didn’t know his father at all. The boy arrived speaking no English, but he was as intelligent as he was diligent; in 1906, at the age of 20, he was accepted into Harvard University. In 1917, Goggio earned a doctorate from Harvard, and he would go on to hold academic appointments at several universities, including the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Toronto, teaching the language and culture of Italy. Eventually, he determined that his core academic mission was “documenting the penetration of Italian influences in America” as well as in Canada, a passionate devotion movingly and lovingly captured by the author, his grandson. In fact, Goggio believed in his cause so deeply that he expanded it beyond a scholarly interest—he wanted to spearhead a nationwide increase in the enrollment in Italian studies programs and fashion a more favorable public opinion of Italian culture. To that end, he didn’t limit himself to publishing academic articles, also penning newspaper editorials and even cinematic screenplays. There was a dark side to Goggio’s ardent patriotism, however, as well as a naïveté—both evident in his admiration of Mussolini and in his support of his Fascist policies.

With impressive journalistic meticulousness, the author attempts to precisely define the nature of Goggio’s sometimes murky association with the Italian government, which certainly involved the dissemination of state-sponsored propaganda, for which he likely received monetary remuneration. In fact, Goggio was so successful at “spreading the gospel of Fascism” that he was knighted by the King of Italy. With admirable intelligence and clarity, Brown attempts to explain how such a morally decent and thoroughly intelligent man could become so attached to a politically nefarious movement: “Professor Goggio was predisposed to embrace the patriotic signals emitting from radio beacons in Italy. He was entranced by Mussolini’s showmanship, having been awakened to the powerful appeal of mass media himself. From his location in North America, ‘Italy’ was a combination of literary trope, nostalgic memories, and cultural iconography. Emilio’s Italy flourished in the landscape of his mind—the ethereal home of his self-esteem and identity.” The sole failing of the author’s thoughtful biography—one that’s unabashedly affectionate but appropriately critical as well—is that he dwells on the minute details of Goggio’s quotidian and professional life in an apparent attempt to achieve encyclopedic comprehensiveness. As a result, some sections read like a narrated curriculum vitae. Nonetheless, this is an intellectually engrossing work and a thrilling portal into tumultuous historical times.

A captivating blend of personal biography and world history.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2024

ISBN: 9798869984623

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2024

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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LOVE, PAMELA

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

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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

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