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

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 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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