Manhattan on the Rocks

Michael Musto, Author Henry Holt & Company $18.45 (298p) ISBN 978-0-8050-1032-9
Best known as the irrepressible entertainment columnist for the Village Voice , Musto has written a first novel that reads like a ragtag heap of mean-spirited gossip columns. Purporting to explore the well-trodden terrain of New York's supposedly glamorous nightclub scene, this is yet another look at jaded young urbanites whose banal lives make for torturous reading. Musto's hyperactive prose quickly becomes exhausting, while his characters' trendiness, middlebrow snobbery and rancid narcissism sink the novel into a midden of unreadability. Narrator Vincent DiBlasio, publisher of Manhattan on the Rocks magazine, declares he is a voyeur at clubs, a watcher of the fun and madness, not a participant but a soulful Proustian chronicler. A nice Italian boy from Queens, the Dartmouth dropout devotes his magazine to his trendy friends, who have made him into a minor celebrity. DiBlasio's gang includes buxom beauty Starla Rogers, who becomes his mentor and lover; Favio la Ronde, a drugged-out party animal on the skids; and Vivien, a fervent AIDS activist and the only character with anything approaching a social conscience. Musto has some nice moments describing DiBlasio's odd family, but these scenes hardly make up for the novel's basic meretriciousness. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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