A harrowing and engrossing account of a young woman’s difficult journey.

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BLIND PONY

AS TRUE A STORY AS I CAN TELL

A debut memoir tells the story of a teenager trying to escape a life of exploitation and find herself.

Hart’s troubles started when she was 5 years old. Her mother had left her husband, taking her five daughters to live on her parents’ farm in rural Pennsylvania. According to Hart, her grandfather sexually abused her repeatedly, trying to hide the horrific deeds from the rest of the family. He was caught in the act by the author’s mother, who ignored it. Hart decided she would have to fend for herself and headed to Arizona to live with her father, “Wild Bill,” whom she had idealized in his absence. But he had started a new family, and Hart would not be a part of it. The cycle of abuse continued as she fled Arizona for Los Angeles after a pimp tried to recruit her. She found herself hooked on drugs and abused by a string of men trying to keep her as a sex object. But along the way, she discovered assets and talents. Eventually, she realized she had inherited her father’s ability to bluff his way through sales and that she was good at prepping a store for presentations. She did some modeling, and that led her to different jobs as a stylist for adult photo shoots. Hart followed a photographer named Eugene to England and wound up traveling around Europe, selling adult photo sets to publishers. At one point, she became a backgammon hustler in Los Angeles, something readers likely won’t find in many memoirs. Most of this happened before she turned 20. What pulls the story along is that each time the exploitation cycle repeated, Hart seemed to get a little closer to relying on her own strengths and finally becoming independent. The drugs, the lure of glamour, and just bad decision-making kept getting in the way. Hart is a gifted storyteller, and sometimes these engaging tales of traveling the world and mingling with the rich and famous seem like something out of a celebrity biopic (perhaps why she subtitled her work). The book is ultimately inspirational, but readers have to see the author go through a wringer to get there.

A harrowing and engrossing account of a young woman’s difficult journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64871-010-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

RAGE

That thing in the air that is deadlier than even your “strenuous flus”? Trump knew—and did nothing about it.

The big news from veteran reporter Woodward’s follow-up to Fear has been widely reported: Trump was fully aware at the beginning of 2020 that a pandemic loomed and chose to downplay it, causing an untold number of deaths and crippling the economy. His excuse that he didn’t want to cause a panic doesn’t fly given that he trades in fear and division. The underlying news, however, is that Trump participated in this book, unlike in the first, convinced by Lindsey Graham that Woodward would give him a fair shake. Seventeen interviews with the sitting president inform this book, as well as extensive digging that yields not so much news as confirmation: Trump has survived his ineptitude because the majority of Congressional Republicans go along with the madness because they “had made a political survival decision” to do so—and surrendered their party to him. The narrative often requires reading between the lines. Graham, though a byword for toadyism, often reins Trump in; Jared Kushner emerges as the real power in the West Wing, “highly competent but often shockingly misguided in his assessments”; Trump admires tyrants, longs for their unbridled power, resents the law and those who enforce it, and is quick to betray even his closest advisers; and, of course, Trump is beholden to Putin. Trump occasionally emerges as modestly self-aware, but throughout the narrative, he is in a rage. Though he participated, he said that he suspected this to be “a lousy book.” It’s not—though readers may wish Woodward had aired some of this information earlier, when more could have been done to stem the pandemic. When promoting Fear, the author was asked for his assessment of Trump. His reply: “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.” Multiple crises later, Woodward concludes, as many observers have, “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-73-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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