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YES, AGAIN

(MIS)ADVENTURES OF A WISHFUL THINKER

A funny, touching, and ultimately uplifting story of a woman searching for love and purpose.

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A memoir about a 70-something widow navigating the world of 21st-century dating.

In her nonfiction debut, Weissinger interweaves stories of her early life with tales of participating once again in the dating world, many years after her husband’s death. She’d lost her spouse to esophageal cancer when she was 57, and her account in these pages details her search for someone else to invite into her life in her 70s. But on what terms, she wondered, and to what end? Was she looking for someone as just a buddy, as a more serious companion, or as a potential husband? These questions almost immediately seem coy, because as the narrative progresses, her search for romance become clear. Over the course of the book, the author tells of how she spent time on internet dating sites, such as Our Time and Zoosk, and relates stories from her experience that readers of any age who’ve also tackled the dating scene will find familiar. Interspersed among these accounts are reminiscences drawn from Weissinger’s nondating life. She writes about her rocky relationship with one of her daughters; her experiences with her late husband, Matt, including some very moving passages about his final days; and her many activities later in life, from volunteering at animal shelters to working with medical organizations as a Spanish-language translator. However, the primary focus of the book remains the author’s search for a new significant other in her life.

The wry, upbeat humor of that search is the key attraction of the book. Throughout the narrative, Weissinger consistently portrays herself as a dogged optimist—someone who’s always hoping and striving to see the best in people. This quality comes out in her nondating stories, too, and most clearly in several of her anecdotes about her adult children and her experiences in Latin America. However, the war stories from online dating carry the narrative. Weissinger is low-key and funny about the men that she encountered, including a guy with a tattoo that linked his eyebrows, “bearded Santa Claus types wearing John Deere caps and drinking beer,” a “dude with obviously dyed, coal black Dracula-style hair” (“a black it had never been in his twenties,” she gently adds), and “the one whose selfies made him look like a wanted criminal on FBI posters.” These lighthearted misadventures are skillfully counterbalanced with emotionally revelatory passages about her time volunteering in the Dominican Republic. At first, she asked herself, “Hadn’t I aged out of this kind of adventure?” But soon, she describes herself as feeling “stripped of superfluous trappings, in touch with the essence of what matters in life, close to my skin, and accepted into others’ skins and lives.” There are a few passages and threads along the way that feel a bit predictable, but her portraits of the many people she met on her journeys are rendered with contagious sympathy and energy, which makes for a confident, quality remembrance.

A funny, touching, and ultimately uplifting story of a woman searching for love and purpose.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-64-742315-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2021

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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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