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A SHORT GOOD LIFE

An emotionally honest, informative, and beautifully composed cancer account; a solid addition to the genre.

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A memoir recalls a fierce, two-year battle against leukemia fought by the author’s young daughter.

Liza was diagnosed in October 1994 at the age of 4. The bone marrow test revealed “acute lymphocytic leukemia.” As devastating as the news was, there was great hope for her survival. “Pre-B cell leukemia is the most successfully treated,” the New York Mount Sinai Hospital doctor told Lister and his wife. “The cure rate is high, now greater than 80 percent.” And Liza had no known risk factors, making her an ideal candidate for the two-year course of treatment. The author and his wife, Elena, both psychiatrists, had faith in the primary members of the oncology team, and Liza was admitted to the hospital, where she remained for a month, receiving the first round of treatment. She was given strong doses of steroids to counteract the effects of the chemotherapy. Then there were medicines to counteract the effects of the steroids. Six weeks after returning home and receiving the good news that she was in remission, Liza returned to the hospital with a major fungal infection. This was followed by her developing severe pancreatitis as a result of one of the chemo drugs. And round and round it went, for two years. Lister describes in detail the many procedures and medications Liza endured, imparting valuable information for families facing similar journeys. Notwithstanding his gratitude for the skill, care, and compassion of the medical professionals, he also issues a warning to readers: Be alert. In a chilling passage, he writes of catching a careless error when Liza was almost given 10 times the correct dose of a powerful medication. But the strength of the heartbreaking memoir rests with the author’s ability to capture, through narration and daily dialogue, the inner turmoil and resilience of each family member (including Liza’s older sister, Molly), as they struggled together through the frustrations, anger, doubts, love, hopes, and fears during this painful ordeal. Liza—so young yet so courageous and articulate, even as she knew she was dying—remains a vibrant presence in these pages.

An emotionally honest, informative, and beautifully composed cancer account; a solid addition to the genre.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4766-8557-1

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Toplight Books

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2022

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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