Energetic and keen revelations of the life beyond the spotlight of a significant contemporary musician.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020



The acclaimed singer and songwriter shares her story.

In this passionate and honest autobiography, Keys, who describes herself as “a piano prodigy in cornrows, mixing classical music with hip-hop beats and bass lines alongside a dash of gospel,” opens with a few memories from her childhood, when she was raised by her mother with little involvement from her biological father. She describes how she developed her persona and image and maintained her independence beginning with debut album, Songs in A Minor, which would eventually sell more than 16 million copies. Throughout her career, she has successfully avoided being manipulated by record label executives, many of whom didn’t know how to classify her as an artist. “A record label is a marketing machine,” she notes. “Behind its doors, fledgling artists are crafted into whatever image the label’s execs think they can sell.” Regardless, the reactions by the public quickly pushed Keys to the top of the charts. She chronicles her music-making process and nods to her many collaborators, and she opens a window into her personal life that sheds light on her triumphs, doubts, fears, and the exhausting nature of being thrust into stardom at an early age. She also shares intimate moments with her husband, record producer Swizz Beatz—e.g., the extravagant birthday parties they’ve thrown for each other, the births of her two sons, and the blended family they created with Swizz’s other children—and explains the passions that have led her to start nonprofit organizations and tackle social injustices. In a conversational tone, Keys unveils the woman behind the microphone, giving readers an accessible view of what makes her tick. Since many aspects of her life are apparent in her music, readers may want to listen to an album or two after reading certain sections of the book. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

Energetic and keen revelations of the life beyond the spotlight of a significant contemporary musician.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15329-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: April 20, 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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