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MELANIA AND ME

THE RISE AND FALL OF MY FRIENDSHIP WITH THE FIRST LADY

The kind of book a therapist might tell you to write to get it out of your system.

Yet another tell-all from a disgruntled Trump administration ex, this time from the East Wing.

“Imagine if your close friend suddenly, unexpectedly, became one of the most powerful, influential women in the whole world,” writes Wolkoff, the founder of a consulting agency and former director of special events for Vogue, in this tedious, opportunistic memoir. A few years later, the author read this headline on the front page of the New York Times: “Trump’s Inaugural Committee Paid $26 Million to First Lady’s Friend.” As Wolkoff writes, “my personal compensation for my work on the inauguration that I retained was $480,000….Many people working on the inauguration made far more than I did.” To be fair, the author is one of countless victims of the Trump propensity for stiffing former employees and then smearing them publicly, and she notes that, after attorney fees, she is “in the hole almost a million dollars.” The book deal should help recoup some of those expenses. Though the author sets the record straight in mind-numbing detail—more than 80 pages cover the day-by-day planning of the inauguration—she offers scant fresh information about Melania or her husband’s administration. Was Melania upset about the Access Hollywood tape? No. Is she close with Ivanka? No. Throughout the book, which is about 100 pages too long, the author documents her relationship with her former friend via the many texts they exchanged, replete with heart emojis and effusive declarations of love—e.g., “I LOVE YOU…XOXO.” For far too long, the author admits, she was stuck in “Mel-La-Lania Land,” but she fails to provide enough interesting material from behind the wall. The best news coming from the book is that at least one 2016 voter has changed her mind about DJT, as he is called here.

The kind of book a therapist might tell you to write to get it out of your system.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-5124-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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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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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