Sociology taken to the streets and basements, yielding a well-wrought introduction to a scene little known—and perhaps...

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NIGHT CLASS

A DOWNTOWN MEMOIR

An engaging, if unlikely, memoir of a scholar by day, club hopper by night.

Corona is many things: a sociologist at NYU, a dreamer (in the sense of both having parents who were illegal immigrants from Mexico and having large ambitions), a gay Latino, and both a worshiper and student of celebrity. He combines all these interests and attributes in this spry memoir of New York nightlife, the bouncer-at-the-gate demimonde of loud discos and flowing drink and drug. As he writes, he is almost alone in chronicling the scene as a scholar: there have been a few who have parachuted in for a quick look and just a couple of other participant observers, including a former runway model who “accessed situations and had conversations that a big-nosed, non-white queer man like me simply couldn’t.” Inspired to come to NYC by the antics of the so-called Club Kids movement of the early 1990s, a whirlwind of outrageous behavior and costumes that ended in a morass of pharmaceuticals and murder, Corona exults in “the eventual education I would get downtown: the complicated yet very malleable nature of human identity.” Put on a costume or a wig, that is, and you become a different person—but in the club scene, you are who you want to be, whatever personality or gender you wish, and by Corona’s account, no one is particularly interested in the truth. Though written by a scholar, there are only a few nods to academic niceties here. The only obligatory moment seems to be a somewhat glancing history of the club scene as refracted through the pioneers at Andy Warhol’s Factory, whose escapades are well-documented elsewhere. Yet even Corona’s nods to those pioneers are lively, as with his homage to Susanne Bartsch, whose “pronounced Swiss German accent is a harsh flourish that only adds dramatic bite to her already expressive character, one that incarnates fabulousness.”

Sociology taken to the streets and basements, yielding a well-wrought introduction to a scene little known—and perhaps little imagined—to outsiders.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-939-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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