A detailed first-person account of one man’s mental illness that leaves big questions unanswered.


In his debut memoir, Douglas recalls his life-altering week as a patient in a psychiatric ward.

“Some 50 years ago, I was introduced to the worlds of psychedelics and psychic phenomenon,” Douglas writes. “It did not end well.” As a young man, he thought of himself as a “bright bundle of promise.” By his mid-20s he had obtained a master’s degree in education and was working as a senior systems analyst, but he was unhappy with his life and embarked on a journey into what he terms “magic” using psychedelic drugs, yoga, and mind control. He eventually found himself on a downward spiral that led him to drive himself to a hospital, where he was given a shot of Thorazine, and woke up in a closed psychiatric ward feeling “weak and scattered.” Begun within six months of his release and rewritten during the next couple of years, this memoir offers a day-by-day account of his hospital stay, carefully detailing his thoughts, from the notion “I’ll never get better. I’ll never leave the ward” to the paranoid fantasy that he “would be changed to a female.” Douglas admits that he wrote much of the account while “still delusional and still hallucinating” but had an “inner need” to finish it. He describes his hallucinations in vivid detail, including one in which he attempted to escape the ward and felt that he was viewing his pursuit from above: “As if from a great distance, I watched several doll-like figures running back and forth, crisscrossing from one side of the corridor to the other. My world went sideways. It was as though I were watching all of this running and activity from a great height, perhaps as much as 4 or 5 stories up.” Such accounts can become repetitive, and phrases such as “on the other hand” recur with nagging frequency. The book also would have benefited from better framing of his experiences. Douglas says his week on the ward “would drastically affect the rest of my life,” but it’s never quite clear how, and he says little about how he perceives his hospital stay 50 years later. Absent that kind of reflection, this book may interest those with similar experiences, but for others it will prove uncomfortable reading.

A detailed first-person account of one man’s mental illness that leaves big questions unanswered.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982214-68-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.


The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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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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