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NOW YOU ARE A MISSING PERSON

A MEMOIR IN POEMS, STORIES, & FRAGMENTS

A poignant tale of grief and hope that stirs the heart.

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A woman reflects on love, loss, and life in a moving memoir that blends poetry and prose.

Hayden tackles some of life’s biggest themes—from sex and motherhood to grief and art—with a mix of poems and short essays. She traces her journey from the Los Angeles artist community of the 1970s to later childrearing with section titles that guide readers through her emotional state, including “Dislocated,” “Unavailable,” “Landed,” “Endangered,” and “Situated,” among others. At the heart of the memoir, however, is the notion of death. After a series of sudden losses—including that of her husband, who died in an avalanche while skiing in 2008, leaving Hayden to raise their 11-year-old son alone—the author spent much of her time examining her feelings of grief, both within herself and in the context of the larger world: “This has always been / a ‘Quest’ story / with its circuitous route, / its point and its shoot, / its natural disasters / Still running to the men / who were once / boys without fathers….” Occasionally, the poems and essays are preceded by a quote that gives context to the topic at hand; “The Family Table,” for instance, offers a thought from Rabbi Yehiel E. Poupko before the author’s reminiscences about her Jewish upbringing. Various recurring characters, both major (her parents, husband, son) and minor (a psychic, unnamed lovers), appear throughout the work to provide a consistent narrative thread. Casual mentions of Hayden’s acquaintanceships and friendships with various poets, songwriters, and artists give readers an intriguing peek into her unconventional life.

Even when the author writes in prose, her words have a lyrical edge; her scraps and fragments of stories always seem poised to take off in flight: “When I was nineteen, my heart had a head-on collision with a once famous matinee idol, twenty-five years my senior. He had the boots, the breath, the space in his step. He had the rugged, feelingless behavior.” Hayden is skilled at imbuing even the simplest of words with resonant meaning, which gives the work a haunting quality of searching for something just outside one’s reach. This occurs when she discusses religious clarity (“He’d thought sitting in the Orchestra Pit at synagogue / would bring him closer to God, but the choir, with its rinah u’tefillah / —temple songs written to open the heart—pushed him away”) or testing boundaries (“I was an anomaly in the West Valley, a trickster with a two-spirit nature, Technics turntable and a Barbie suitcase, jam-packed with personal belongings….And I was a bolter, always running away, but just for a little while”). A sense of rawness permeates the memoir, which hits all the more starkly when punctuated with sweet moments, such as memories of her father’s sweet tooth or of sneaking clove cigarettes at Sunday school. As readers roam through accounts of joys and tragedies in Hayden’s life, a solid narrative begins to take shape—one that inspires even as it plumbs the depths of anguish.

A poignant tale of grief and hope that stirs the heart.

Pub Date: May 9, 2023

ISBN: 9781957799124

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Moontide Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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  • New York Times Bestseller

TANQUERAY

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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