cover image Night Class: A Downtown Memoir

Night Class: A Downtown Memoir

Victor P. Corona. Soft Skull, $16.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-61902-939-2

In this scattershot hybrid memoir and cultural history, sociologist Corona researches the New York City club scene circa 2011 while describing his own metamorphosis from earnest academic nerd into glittering creature of the night. Born in Mexico and raised in Westchester, N.Y., Corona struggled in his youth with his sexuality and outsider status, finding temporary havens in radical politics and academia. Only after his first forays to nightclubs did he realize that his true path required detours to the gym and cosmetics counter. His activities lead him in the book to discussions about a parade of eccentric clubgoers, including Lady Gaga (whom he caught glimpses of) and the alumni of Warhol’s Factory. Corona had stints as an assistant for the club-kid Caligula as well as for Michael Alig, who was convicted in the 1996 murder of fellow clubgoer Andre Melendez. Corona’s story of his journey has fascinating elements, above all the Alig encounters, but falls short of its potential. The lack of an overview or historical outline blurs his subjects into a bewildering montage, a problem further exacerbated by the inclusion of dozens of detailed interviews that do nothing to move the narrative. Although Corona can be an engaging narrator, the personal material at the narrative core comes across as flat and rushed. [em](July) [/em]