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Venice in Books D-K
alphabetized by author

Venice in Books L-P
alphabetized by author

Venice in Books Q-Z
alphabetized by author

Novelists, Journalists, Actors, Screenwriters, Directors who live or lived in Venice

Quotations about Venice

Free Venice Beachhead headlines August 1977-October 1985

30 Years Ago
in the Free Venice Beachhead

Free Venice Beachhead Archives 1980-81

Beachhead Archives 1982

Beachhead Archives 1983

Beachhead Archives 1984

1914-1916 Part 1

1914-1916 Part 4

1914-1916 Part 5

John Hamilton

Lighthearted Beachhead pieces

People of Venice (from Beachhead)

Windward Avenue Articles from Beachhead

Art in the Beachhead

Venice institutions from the Beachhead

Venice in Magazines and other ephemeral sources

Birth of Venice:
old-timey magazines

Destiny's Consent by
Laura Shepard

Lions and Gondolas

Rana Ayzeren

Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole

Another Chapter from Tales of the Blue Meanie by Allan Cole

"Brick" Garrigues

The Spectre

Venice Historical Society

1969 Police Riots

Jack the Liar








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, Venice Vanguard

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 information.

Kevin Allman - Hot Shot and Long Shot
Successful mysteries set in Venice Beach.

Steven Alvarado - The Angel of Venice Beach
about a gay angel. Author is also a musician. Short excerpt on Xlibris website looks pretty incoherent but maybe it’s 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 Gold’s 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. We’d 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, gets involved

Will 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 wouldn’t really expect him to hang out at "this terrible abode of evil." But God wasn’t 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 she’d 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 (1982)
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 billionairess.

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 there’s 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 that’s about all. Learned a new word here: half-ass-trologer

Ray Bradbury - Death is a Lonely Business (1985)

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.

It’s cold and foggy and the sun hasn’t 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 (2004)
Picture the world’s most famous actress wandering around Rose St. in 1906 trying to figure out where her life is headed. First, she’s scheduled to put on a play in Venice because of being banned from Los Angeles, which is historically accurate. The moralists didn’t 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. She’s 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 hasn’t 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 she’s already played a thousand times, and by the question of whether it’s time to quit the stage.

Though it’s 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 don’t know how much accuracy): "…he had 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 it’s a lovely book and certainly provides very evocative descriptions of Venice in its infancy.

Kate Braverman - Lithium for Medea (1979)
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 (1933)
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
Traveler’s guidebook

George Butler- Pumping Iron (1974)

California Surfriders
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 1967
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 to amuse.

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 lady’s 7-month tour of California, including Venice.

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 place there.

Stephen J. Cannell - Hollywood Tough (2004)
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 (2004)
Describes a Venice that "clung to its heritage like a stubborn drunk refusing to get off a barstool." The detective’s 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 on it.

Erna Cooper - The Venice Apartment and Other Stories
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 Swami" (1982)
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 (1995)
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


© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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