Venice in Books A-C
In alphabetical order by author's last name
Peter Abrahams - Oblivion ..
Private eye Nick Petrov lives in a house that backs onto a canal.
Peter Abrahams - Crying Wolf
One of the characters had overheard a guy at a bar in Venice, who
said into a cell phone, "Nothing surprises me any more."
Bob and Anita Alexander, probably - Beatnik
Dictionary and Who's Who in Venice West (1959-60)
Carolyn Elayne Alexander - Abbot Kinney's Venice-of-America
Volume One The Golden Years: 1905-1920 (1991)
Sponsored by the Venice Historical Society, product of 8,000 hours of
research into primary sources, mainly Santa Monica Outlook,
Elayne Alexander - Images of America
Venice CA (1999)
presented by Venice Historical Society. Research included 200 interviews
of local and pioneer families. Pictures from 1880s to present, including
fabulous pictures from early publicity-generating activities: girls riding
on blocks of ice towed by cars, stunt flyers, etc. Captions hold fascinating
Kevin Allman - Hot Shot and
Successful mysteries set in Venice Beach.
Steven Alvarado - The Angel of Venice
about a gay angel. Author is also a musician. Short excerpt on Xlibris
website looks pretty incoherent but maybe its not representative
Kenneth Anger - Hollywood Babylon II
The book's endpapers show, drawn John Groth, "a slightly cockeyed
map of that slightly cockeyed community Hollywood" which actually
includes most of LA in a distorted view. Speedway is all along one edge,
bordering the ocean, and the whole space between Pico and Venice Boulevards
is taken up by a bus full of gawking tourists.
Katie Arnoldi - Chemical Pink : A Novel
of Obsession (2001)
Story of exploitation and kinkiness in the highly rarified world of professional
bodybuilding. Set in Golds Gym and Venice of the 80s, where the
author trained for many year, this novel explores the extreme side of
bodybuilding. It's about Aurora, whose competitive career is subsidized
by a weird rich guy named Charles whose hobby is grooming and owning world-class
women. He elevates her to greatness, but the price is total obedience
in a training regimen of his own invention, and participation in his bizarre
sex games. I have to say it held my interest consistently.There is some
atmospheric description of the Venice scene, especially Muscle Beach,
where her observations include the fact that none of the bodybuilders
ever go in the water, but like to walk on the sand because it's good for
the calves. Book was bought by New Line Cinema and there was talk of Mickey
Rourke being in the movie but it never got made.
Rana Ayzeren - Barefoot in Venice
Robert Baer - See No Evil
A non-fiction tell-all book by a guy who was able to join the CIA despite
his flaky radical mother, who entertained notorious leftists including
Born on the Fourth of July author Ron Kovic. "Active in antiwar
protests, Kovic would periodically call my mother just to check in. Wed
laugh about the FBI wiretappers puzzling over the eccentric old lady with
a used bookstore in Venice."
Tilly Bagshawe - Adored - Siena,
the main character, is a model/actress who is in a movie The Prodigal
Daughter, being made in Venice. Her lover Max, after a night of drunken
debauchery, takes a cab to Venice beach and goes swimming at something
like 4 a.m. to sober up. Another actress, Tiffany, rents a cottage on
a walk street, with a yard full of fruit trees
James Robert Baker - Testosterone: a Novel
The police are on his trail for assaulting an old woman outside a
grocery store, or so he was just told by the man in a wheelchair he attacked
at Venice Beach
Jen Banbury - Like a Hole in the Head
Jill is working at a bookstore when she has a conflict with a dwarf
over valuable book, and her friend Timmy, who raises ducks on the canals,
Baron - Deceived by the New Age: the
Story of a New Age Priest (1990)
The writer belonged to a Los Angeles New Age center called the
Lighted Way. The voices in his head told him what make and model of car
to buy, and also to break up with his girlfriend, become celibate, quit
cussing and quit going to bars or movies. The voices told him to move
to Torrance, then to the Findhorn community in Scotland, where he worked
in publications and was accepted as a full member of the community. Unfortunately,
only a week later the voices dispatched him back to LA. (Later he changed
his mind about Findhorn, saying "Here Satan has built a paradise
for his New Age followers.") Back at the Lighted Way, he was instructed
to give its leader all his money and go get some more by maxing out his
credit card. The voices tortured him by playing the Eagles song "Take
It to the Limit" over and over until he gave the full $6000.
It upset him when Lighted Way switched to Jesus,
and he realized later that they were really counterfeit Christians because
doctrine was still received via meditation.
Jesus told the author to go to Venice Beach and preach,
so he put on his best brown suit and tie. Ocean Front Walk was so funky,
he figured God was kidding, and wouldnt really expect him to hang
out at "this terrible abode of evil." But God wasnt kidding,
and told him to get a display easel and make a sign using a famous painting
of Jesus and the words "If you are waiting for this man to come,
you are wasting your time because I can tell you where he is!" God
also directed him to dress casually this time, and to set up his beach
ministry right across from the synagogue.
For several weeks he spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons
on the boardwalk. One woman told him about how shed seen Jesus in
the sand a couple years before. He also met a guy from a Christian rock
band. Then he got baptized by a different group of Christians and started
speaking in tongues. But alas, it was only Satan fooling him again. Suddenly
after 12 years as a New Ager and New Age Christian, he saw the true light.
Aaron Betsky - Konig Eizenberg: Buildings
A Southern California architecture firm "best known for innovative,
low-cost housing" Shows Electric ArtBlock, twenty units of artists'
work-from-home housing in Venice
Paul Bishop - Tequila Mockingbird
In this novel, the Venice resident is Gina, a police records clerk who
was having an affair with a married cop who got killed. Author calls Venice
a "swapmeet by the sea" where tourists flock to "mingle
with oddballs and perverts"
Michael Blankfort - An Exceptional Man
A novel about a psychiatrist who has an affair with his daughter. Another
character gets a little place in Venice for his mistress, a blocked artist.
Michael Blodgett - Hero and the Terror
A psycho-thriller whose hero, named Hero, is in the Venice police department.
It was made into a Chuck Norris movie in 1988.
Norman Bogner- California Dreamers
A spoiled rich girl gets a yen for a working-class Chicano and moves into
his crummy rooming house. The boyfriend turns out to be a convicted murderer
and big-time drug pusher, so naturally they get married. She steals some
of his LSD; in retaliation he chains her naked to the bed for two days.
When he lets her loose they go to the Sidewalk Cafe for brunch.
Norman Bogner - The Deadliest Art (2001)
Detective Michael Danton investigates in Venice and deals with what one
reviewer calls the "depraved denizens of its lower depths."
Something about an insane tattoo artist/murderer and a sadomasochistic
Douglas Borton - Freak Show
In this collaborative novel (edited by F. Paul Wilson) Borton's chapter
includes lavish descriptions of funky Venice including "hippies caught
in a '60s time warp". A traveling carnival sets up in a vacant lot
off Main Street. Some of the freaks love to visit the beachfront, where
they fit right in because pretty much everyone is a freak. Mr. Tane was
born with skin over his eye sockets and also with a set of bat wings.
He poses as a human by disguising his wings beneath an oversize jacket.
But in order to fly, Mr. Tane has to be naked. Every time he arrives somewhere,
he has to knock out a large man and steal his clothes. While flying he
can see by means of a symbiotic and telepathic relationship with Bowser,
a doglike mutant human barely able to walk. When Mr. Tane carries Bowser
in his arms, he gets eyes and Bowser gets around. Their boss sends the
team on a mission: recover an important object from the Malibu home of
an new-age airhead starlet who keeps a pyramid under her bed. A party
is in progress and Tane has to reveal his true self, terrifying everyone
except an agent who wants to sign him. I won't say any more except you
should go find this book.
T. Coraghessan Boyle - Budding Prospects
The protagonist's friend tells a long anecdote about a girl he once met
at Venice Beach who changed his life drastically.
T. Coraghessan Boyle - The Tortilla Curtain
Illegal immigrants live in the canyons; a young woman is told theres
some sewing work in Venice so walks 8 miles then takes a bus to get there,
but arrives to find the building boarded up. The sight of a long-haired
street person terrifies her: "if he had to beg in his own country,
what chance was there for her?".
Ray Bradbury - Let's All Kill Constance
Starts out with the excellent line, It was a dark and stormy night.
Murder mystery whose hero lives in Venice, but thats about all.
Learned a new word here: half-ass-trologer
Ray Bradbury - Death is a Lonely Business
This spooky detective story lyrically evokes the
Venice of 1949, in its era of despoilment by ugly noisy stinky oil pumps;
reminiscent of the nighttime scenes so poignantly shown in vintage postcards.
Nobody can create atmosphere like Bradbury and this environment gives
him a lot to work with. The very first words are: "Venice, California,
in the old days had much to recommend it to people who liked to be sad....."
Mike Davis calls the work soft-boiled noir.
The protagonist is a struggling detective story writer
whose studio apartment costs $30 a month, so you know how long ago it
was. He "traps all the wandering people of Venice" by writing
a page apiece about them for a book he will complete some day.
Its cold and foggy and the sun hasnt
shown for weeks, when at 3 in the morning, from a little bridge, he sees
a corpse in an old circus wagon that had been dumped in the canal.
The writer and his allies investigate the deaths
of long-time residents. The old man in the canal was a local character
who rented a room from the Canary Lady and hung out at a decrepit tobacco
shop there trolley tickets were sold. He had become convinced that a man-like
creature lived in a canal, emerging at night to kill.
Drowned people wash ashore and there are gunshots
in the night. The marquee of the Venice Cinema reads GOODBYE. An old man
lives with 5,910 books, all depressing. At 27 Speedway is the fortress-like
Mediterranean villa of former movie queen Constance Rattigan, whose career
ended when she was attacked and mutilated by a jealous lover. A clue leads
to the barber shop across from City Hall.
Sad scenes: the demolition of the pier theater; the
pier denizens all taking their last ride on the roller coaster. Venice
is a very palpable presence throughout, almost indeed a character, though
Bradbury is way too smooth to come right out and say it.
Adam Braver - Divine Sarah : A Novel
Picture the worlds most famous actress wandering around Rose St.
in 1906 trying to figure out where her life is headed. First, shes
scheduled to put on a play in Venice because of being banned from Los
Angeles, which is historically accurate. The moralists didnt care
for her cross-dressing or other irregular habits that flaunted the accepted
boundaries of behavior. In fact Sarah Bernhardt was the Michael Jackson
of her time when it came to garnering publicity based on lifestyle choices.
The menagerie of animals, the sleeping in a coffin, the gender-bending,
the sexual freedom. Shes a little put out about being "exiled
to the carnival," and by having to stay temporarily at the King George
Hotel until her private rail car arrives. Also the luggage with her opium
supply hasnt caught up yet. (The backstory involves Sarah snorting
cocaine with Thomas Edison on a winter night in his lab.)
Her production crew, building the set, is in despair
because the Auditorium is just too damn big. Then at the last minute the
diva decides to change to a different play. She is in a creative quandary,
plagued by doubt about how to interpret her most famous role that shes
already played a thousand times, and by the question of whether its
time to quit the stage.
Though its in both their interests to work
together, she starts off not liking Abbot Kinney much. He is portrayed
as a savvy and cynical fellow with a tendency to cussing. Kinney is described
by author (with I dont know how much accuracy): "
made the point with all his accountants that every transaction and deal
that had been made to bring Venice of America to life should be free and
clear of malfeasance. He had worked hard to keep a clean reputation
This is a literary novel and has some exquisite passages,
along with some disregard of grammar etc. that kind of jar, given the
fineness of the writing. And some odd word choices, such as calling the
61-year-old actress an ingénue. Still its a lovely book and
certainly provides very evocative descriptions of Venice in its infancy.
Kate Braverman - Lithium for Medea
An incredibly depressing novel. The protagonist lives in the Venice canal
district in what's known as the Woman's House, because it has been lived
in by a succession of women romantically connected with this Jason character.
He's a painter who owns a lot of property for which she collects the rents
while he enables her cocaine habit.
Braverman as poet on this page.
Myron Brinig - The Flutter of an Eyelid
This out-of-print book is mentioned by Mike Davis in Ecology of Fear.
An evangelist very much like Aimee Semple McPherson meets a "handsome
but dim-witted sailor who is a dead ringer for a blond Jesus." She
promises the multitudes he will walk on water, but he sees a naked woman
and sinks beneath the waves. Thousands of faithful followers drown themselves.
Of course it all happens at Venice Beach.
Steven Brook - LA Days, LA Nights
George Butler- Pumping Iron (1974)
a 1946 book that goes for over $1,000 if you can find a copy. Historic
photos of the surfing hot spots including Venice.
Charles Bukowski "The
Copulating Mermaid of Venice, California"
Two drunks steal a corpse, which turns out to be that of a young woman
with long blond hair. Both men agree she's the best lay they ever had.
At 4 in the morning they put her in the car and get on the freeway heading
for Venice Beach where they intend to throw her in the ocean. One kisses
her for a last time and decides to swim her out into the water. Then they
go home. Bukowski's story "Twelve Flying Monkeys Who Won't Copulate
Properly" takes place in Hollywood but mentions Venice.
Edward Bunker - Little Boy Blue
A "semi-autobiographical" novel, about a kid who spends the
first part of his life in institutions. At eleven he escapes, lives on
Venice Beach, and bands together with a bunch of other young desperadoes.
Fred Burkhart - The Lover of Slum
Being a Variation on "The Summer of Love," Venice California
A True Love Story - Red, Black and Blue Edition. It's a 15-chapter novel
of acidhead artists. It may be very good, but I'll never know, because
reading it soon became an aggravating chore. Many words have their first
letters capitalized, an affectation which, after a few sentences, ceases
John K. Butler - Hacker's Holiday (1940)
One of a series of pulp mysteries starring a cab driver/amateur detective.
Part of it takes place in Venice and is said to feature wonderful descriptions
of the architecture and scenery. Many of Butler's other tales, though
not set in Venice, include passing mentions.
Patricia J. Campbell - Passing the Hat
Campbell lived in Venice for a long time, and some of her best friends
were street performers. Profiles of musicians including Butch Mudbone,
Delta blues guitarist Uncle Bill Crawford, Harry the Fiddler, accordionist
Patrick White, David and Roselyn, Jingles, Slavin' David, and various
Canaligators. In the non-musical acts we find Jim Cappe, who juggles bowling
balls, fiery torches, meat cleavers and machetes; Will the Juggler; Swami
X; Pagan the Poet; improv comedy troupe LA Connection; psychic Glenn Gazin;
the Soular Sisters and more.
Phyllis Hanley Campbell - Impressions of a
Number of California Towns (1918)
Manuscript describes a young ladys 7-month tour of California,
Stephen J. Cannell - The Tin Collectors
A novel of conspiracy, corruption, and suspense starring a police officer
who lives in the canal district. "Shane Scully was at home there
like no place else on earth. Venice, California, defined him," the
author says. Shane tries to rescue the wife of his ex-partner from severe
domestic violence. This unhappy couple lives on Shell Avenue. The ex-partner
is Lt. Ray "Steeltooth" Molar, called by some "the best
fucking cop on the force" and by others a "street monster."
Either way, he winds up dead and Scully is in deep shit. Cannell's novel
includes a meditation on the history and demographics of the area. "Venice
seemed as misplaced as her residents..." and "...sinking into
the mud of social indifference" are two quotes.
Stephen J. Cannell - The Viking Funeral
Although Shane Scully still lives in Venice, none of the action takes
Stephen J. Cannell - Hollywood Tough
Shane Scully gets to move out of his shabby little Venice canal digs and
live in a fancy "asset forfeiture" house - but he misses home.
There is a lot of coming and going from Venice, and a little history of
the city. The author speaks of the canals and their old-world charm "as
if a dreamer's vision might still be able to catch hold in this high-tech
microchip world and cling to life, refusing to be banished, no matter
how out of place and ill-conceived." Amen to that.
Stephen J. Cannell - Vertical Coffin
Describes a Venice that "clung to its heritage like a stubborn drunk
refusing to get off a barstool." The detectives houseguest
goes to Venice High, where she is cast as Maria in a student production
of West Side Story
Michael Cart (editor)- Love & Sex
In one of this collection of ten stories, Laurie Halse Anderson tells
of a date at Venice Beach
Michael Chabon - Wonder Boys
One of the characters is student James Leer, an aficionado of celebrity
suicides, who has written a novel. In it one of his characters rides the
Red Line car to Venice Beach and surrenders "his unhappy soul"
by drowning himself.
Raymond Chandler - Farewell My Lovely
has scenes set in Venice
Allan Cole - Tales of the Blue Meanie
Forthcoming memoir of this author's days in Venice
Jackie Collins - Hollywood Wives: The New Generation
One of the wives is screwing Oliver Rock, a screenwriter who lives in
a rundown apartment building in a seedy neighborhood in Venice. The husband
goes jogging with the screenwriter on the boardwalk and confronts him
about the affair.
Jennifer Colt - The Vampire of Venice Beach
Harley-riding, red-headed identical twins go to Venice Beach tracking
a killer. Subplot involves their rich great-aunt Reba and her local charity
work in Venice.
Michael Connelly - Chasing the Dime
Pierce gets interested in the fate of a hooker named Lily who
used to have his phone number, and it turns out she lives in - where else?
- Venice. Her trick pad is also there, off Speedway. Pierce goes to her
bungalow on Altair Place and gets her trick book, finding the address
of somebody named Wainwright, a scumbag who manages 32 properties. Finally
the hero ends up on Breeze, a walk street, to play out the penultimate
act of the drama. On the back of the book jacket, only about a quarter
of it is taken up with the author's photo, accompanied by no text - that's
confidence! The background body of water appears to be a canal.
Michael Connelly - A Darkness More Than Night
In this Harry Bosch novel, a murderer on trial was also acquainted
with another woman who died in the same unusual way - and they met during
the production of a movie called The Last Horizon, in Venice.
Michael Connelly - The Black Echo
It's murder disguised as an overdose, and the corpse is someone Harry
Bosch used to know. About the only Venice connection is that the dead
man scored tar heroin there. (This book has a lot of Vietnam lore, especially
about tunnel rats and corrupt government officials.)
Michael Connelly - City of Bones
There's a little history about the founding of Venice and the naysayers
who tried to thwart the project. "Bosch liked the idea of Kinney's
Folly outlasting them all." After returning from Vietnam, the police
detective used to live in a canal bungalow bachelor pad with three other
guys. He dates another cop Julia Brasher who lives at the junction of
Howland and Eastern Canals. They talk about another officer who lives
at the beach and has a board with "To Protect and Surf" written
Erna Cooper - The Venice Apartment and Other
available from Trafford. The author spent many childhood summers on sandy
Venice Beach, setting for the first of these metaphysical love stories.
Eleanor Coppola - Notes
It's about the making of Apocalypse Now, but Coppola digresses
to affirm her lifelong desire to be where it's at. "I have looked
for the center of the art scene. I went to Paris as a student. I lived
in Venice, California..." She says husband Francis shares a wish
to "be part of .....this wonderful community of artists at the moment
that people would talk about later as some golden era....."
Ernest Samuel Corfine- "Farewell My
Long fiction piece, published in the LA Reader.
Douglas Coupland - Shampoo Planet
The hero hangs out with his girlfriend at Venice Beach, where
some kid sprays her with water from an AK-47 squirt gun.
Robert Crais - Demolition Angel
The heroine is a bomb squad cop. In a past case, she went after the man
responsible for a little girl getting part of her hand blown off, and
located the friendly neighborhood fireworks maker in a Venice garage containing
800 pounds of smokeless gunpowder. Another Venice character is Clarence
Jester, a pawnshop owner/arsonist/psych patient who likes to burn dogs
alive. He deals in weapons, explosives and porn.
Robert Crais - Forgotten Man
Tracking a witness for a case, Elvis Cole follows the action to Golden
Escorts, an sexually-oriented establishment in a craftsman knock-off
house in Venice
Robert Crais - Indigo Slam (1997)
Part of the action takes place at Small World Books.
Robert Crais - L. A. Requiem
A character named Rusty used to be a cop but his father-in-law left him
the legacy of a restaurant in Venice which he now runs..
Mark Cramer - Funkytowns USA
In rating the best alternative, eclectic, irreverent and visionary places,
Cramer rates Venice third in the nation.
Quentin Crisp - How to Become a Virgin
The stately homo of England came to LA to act in a movie. In describing
his visit to Venice, "cut-price transcendentalism" is a phrase
that springs to his lips. He has some weird ideas, such as that nobody
ever goes in the water. Maybe there was a sewage alert that week.
go to Books D - K