An uneven ride through an intriguing journey of sex, lies, and videotape.

9 1/2 YEARS BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR

A MEMOIR

This debut memoir follows a stripper from her first days at the infamous Mitchell Brothers club to the fatal shooting of her lover.  

Corday (her stage and pen name) began stripping in early 1980s San Francisco, seeking more freedom and money than her office job allowed. After winning an amateur night contest, the author quickly found an artistic home at the O’Farrell Theater, run by the enterprising Mitchell brothers. Jim and Art “Artie” Mitchell were known for the theater, which was constantly sued or shut down by the police, and for producing the 1971 porn film Behind the Green Door, starring former Ivory Snow model Marilyn Chambers. Early on, Corday began a sexual relationship with Artie, which led to a long-term connection. The author staged several of her own shows at the O’Farrell, including an act where she portrayed then-San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, who vehemently opposed the club. Corday also befriended legendary writer and longtime Mitchell Brothers ally Hunter S. Thompson, and performed with burlesque and pornography luminaries like Tempest Storm and Traci Lords. The author acted in three Mitchell Brothers porn films, including the long-anticipated sequel to Behind the Green Door. Artie’s constant substance abuse as well as his harem sometimes compromised but never dimmed the powerful bond Corday experienced with her boss, who was shot by his own brother in 1991. The author delivers incredible tales of a strip club post-sexual revolution, offering rich details and historical tidbits. But her writing style is somewhat flawed. Though she has a master’s degree in English, her sentence structure is repetitive and her use of past and present tense inconsistent. She’s also highly critical of certain fellow dancers and performers, often commenting on their weight and her own superiority. In one behind-the-scenes story, Corday refers to a little person as a “freak.” Though memoirists don’t require likability to be compelling, the author’s judgmental attitude and habitual telling rather than showing transform what should be a titillating read into a bumpy experience.

An uneven ride through an intriguing journey of sex, lies, and videotape.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-934248-62-1

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Denizen Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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