Among the highlights of sponsoring this year’s Rainbow Book Fair was meeting some of the authors. No sooner had we set up in the morning than one of them, Vinton Rafe McCabe, came over to the table well before the fair had opened and said he enjoyed our weekly podcasts! For that he’ll be subjected to the guest seat soon. In the meantime, his novel Death in Venice, California, is our featured book.
Based on Thomas Mann’s classic, but treading new territory all its own, Death in Venice, California is a darkly comic tale of yearning, its rewards and its costs. Yearning is often considered a passive thing. But this ignores the molten core of havoc that lies within, making it the most hair-trigger of states. Death in Venice, California, takes the burning concept of yearning-as-motivator, jams it into the craw of a staid, entitled central character, and sets him loose, unmoored, in the modern world.
Jameson Frame, an educated, even revered, middle-aged man of letters, flees the cold canyons of Manhattan for Venice, California, where he is soon surrounded by all that this Bedouin village has to offer: wiccans, vegans, transients, artists, drummers, muscle men, skateboarders, plastic surgeons, pornographers, tarot card readers and ghouls. And an arrestingly beautiful young man named Chase, the subject and object of his yearning.
From there, Frame enters into a spiral of liberation, exultation, and, ultimately, destruction. And, as Frame explores his terra incognita, he takes his reader with him on his wild journey of passion, ecstasy, chaos, and consumption, all exploring the nature of self against the modern landscape, all set to the rhythm of the human heartbeat.