An uncensored and eccentric delight.



A British-born entertainment journalist’s account of how an unplanned pregnancy and single motherhood became the starting points for an unexpected adventure in self-acceptance.

Heawood always imagined that her future would involve “a lovely farmhouse…a dog and storybooks and trees and long invigorating walks” as well as children and a “yet-to-materialize” husband/father. Her present, however, involved singlehood, parties, quirky friends, and lively but unsteady freelance work as a Hollywood celebrity journalist, and the doctors told her that her polycystic ovary syndrome would make natural conception impossible. The next time she visited her long-term on-again, off-again long-distance musician lover, she became pregnant. Despite the lover’s misgivings about their fitness to be parents (“he said a child deserved better than us”), Heawood set a determined course for motherhood. But rather than give up her lifestyle, the author carried on along her free-spirited way. She fought through morning sickness at an interview with Jodie Foster while indiscreetly questioning the then-closeted actress about her lesbianism. Later, her “swollen breasts…and…bump” in full view, she attended the Coachella Music Festival with two young men, “one of whom she had only just met.” She gave birth in London and then settled down in a rented house in a district she loved for its “psychodrama and paranoia and spilt beer.” Floundering in the world of postpartum dating, the author desperately tried to navigate sexuality and motherhood, often with hilarious results. Still single in the end, Heawood realized that her truest love was her small daughter, with whom she formed a small but happy “republic of two.” “A single parent is both structure and playground,” she writes, “walls and soft landings, mother tropes and father tropes….I have degendered the situation and don’t see myself as a mother, but as a parent, as the adult, as the introduction to what the world can be like. As neutral as passion, as pretty as heat.” Raw and funny, Heawood’s memoir celebrates the messiness of life and motherhood with boldness, panache, and unexpected moments of real poignancy.

An uncensored and eccentric delight.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49906-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


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 28, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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