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Venice in Books A-C
alphabetized by author

Venice in Books D-K
alphabetized by author

Venice in Books Q-Z alphabetized by author

Novelists, Journalists, Screenwriters, Directors and Actors who live or have 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 L-P

In alphabetical order by author's last name

Gavin Lambert - The Slide Area (1959)
This novel includes a lot of unflattering description of Venice. Granted, we hear that was an awful period, but still Lambert either didn't have his facts straight or used a lot of artistic license in regard to local history. He calls it a "mouldering unfinished little town" without apparently realizing it was once extremely finished, and lots of it was torn down between 1905 and 1959. He says that hardly anyone went to see Bernhardt. But a magazine article by someone else says she played to capacity crowds for three days.

Gavin Lambert - Inside Daisy Clover (1963)
Daisy Clover hangs out in Venice, a "cockeyed dump," though she does love its gimcrack charm and the trolley. She records songs in a booth on the old Venice Pier (the first step toward an eventual fabulous career in the movies). Daisy and her mom move to the Paradise Hotel, then next door to the Twilight Convalarium where they pay $35 a month for a big room with three curtained alcoves.

Marie-Gisele Landes-Fuss - A Red Brick Building, Ugly as Hell, in Venice, California (1984)
When a visiting French pillhead lands in the US her first stop is Venice Beach, home of three thousand junkies. Drums, kites, sand…… scoring. She wanders through Oakwood, hangs out on Ocean Front and strikes up an acquaintance with the Doll Lady, who tells her that a certain building is a drug rehab center. Wacked out of her skull on American pills, she has an accidental, prophetic meeting with a girl who says, "I’m not allowed to talk to you."

Eventually, she joins the 62-member family of junkless junkies, which includes people of all ages, sexes and races, including the son of a movie mogul. The institution, named only in the book’s dedication, is Tuum Est (no relation to est or Erhard Seminars Training). In Latin, Tuum Est means "It’s up to you," the byword of a program that actually seems to have worked, even for addicts with decades-old habits.

The renowned rehabilitation facility was founded in 1970 by Isaac, a massive black former Synanon member, and supported by, among others, a mysterious benefactor known as Prince who periodically stopped by to leave a large check on Isaac’s desk.

The red brick building of the title, referred to by its inhabitants as "this dump", was located at 503 Ocean Front Walk, between the Figtree Café and Bay Cities Synagogue. I always wondered what went on inside that place, and waited more than twenty years to find out: even more weirdness that I had imagined.

Frenchie, as she was known at the dump, gifted the world with a valuable legacy in this book, which is unflinchingly self-revelatory and spiced with plenty of attitude. It’s very lively reading indeed.

Mark Lane - The Strongest Poison
In his book about Jim Jones and Guyana, Lane sets the scene for his own involvement in the story: "At the end of the summer of 1978, while living in a small, crowded apartment in Venice, California....I was completing the draft of a screenplay with Donald Freed...."

Fritz Leiber - The Black Gondolier and Other Stories

The protagonist Daloway has a weird theory about the crude oil that defines his environment. He lives alone in a busted-down trailer beside an oil well, near a café very specifically located on the Grand Canal within half a mile of St. Mark's Plaza. La Gondola Negra, where entertainment is provided by a guitarist who sings an eerie Ballad of the Black Gondola, is described as the successor to the Gas House. The storyteller draws a dismal picture of the Canal District at a certain stage of its history. The arcades of Windward: "....you may have seen them in a horror movie called Delirium where a beautiful crazy slim Mexican girl is chased round and round the deserted porticos by a car flashing its headlights between the pillars."

Lena Lencek editor - Stories by the Sand and Sea (2000)
Anthology, supposedly has a story that involves Venice but I can't vouch for it.

Elmore Leonard - Be Cool
Vita, one of the girls in a band called Chicks International, lives in Venice 2 blocks from the beach in an upstairs apartment full of pillows.

Naomi Levy - To Begin Again
Rabbi Levy was for many years with a congregation in Venice, and this book is about how they and she found meaning in life.

Mark Lindquist - Sad Movies (1987)
Zeke is 25 and lives with Becky in an apartment above the boardwalk. The very self-consciously hip protagonist writes bad advertising copy about bad movies. There are scenes of boardwalk belligerence and weirdness. "Venice is the only place in LA where a confused person on drugs might think he's in Greenwich Village, if he doesn't notice the beach."

Lawrence Lipton - Bruno in Venice West (1976)

Lawrence Lipton - The Holy Barbarians (1959)
the first and most widely known book about the Beats of Venice. John Arthur Maynard, in Venice West, says that Lipton gave everybody at least two names, making the beat community seem larger than it was.

Lawrence Lipton - Gimpie
a novel about a Venice gambler, never finished or published

Elmore Leonard - Road Dogs
Some character named Cundo has more than one Venice oceanfront home, where Jack Foley agrees to stay and watch over a psychic woman.

Marc Lo Porto - Venice Beach California Fantasy Land (1998)

Los Angeles and Disneyland for Dummies

Bret Lott - Jewel
An Oprah's Book Club selection about a Mississippi woman with a developmentally disabled daughter. The family moves to California in 1952 and buys a house in Mar Vista, "an area of the town of Venice." The narrator says the ocean "wasn't much more than a dumping ground for the oil wells." One of her sons plays football for Venice High; he and his brother work out at Muscle Beach and play at the Ocean Park amusement pier.

Alison Lurie - The Nowhere City
A couple moves to LA from New England and the husband has an affair with a Venice beat chick.

Rich Mann - North Beach 90291 (1983)
Photos, including one for which Mann won a major award. Includes pages that fold out into an eight-foot mural representing a contiguous mile of oceanfront buildings from Marine Court (where Pacific Ocean Park used to be) to Windward Avenue. There's also a great picture of Swami X: "Looking to the heavens, he says, 'You promised me Paradise, and I was sent back to Venice?' " Also Ron Kovic, musicians at a pagoda, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Constantine Manos - American Color (1995)
Candid color photographs taken in some of America`s public places: Venice Beach, Atlantic City, and Mardi Gras.

Jody Maroni - Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom Cookbook (1997)
high-quality, reduced-fat gourmet sausage recipes from a Venice boardwalk fixture

John Arthur Maynard - Venice West: The Beat Generation in Southern California (1991)
Published by Rutgers University Press, chronicles the decline of the community into the '70s. Kirkus Reviews says, "Despite some early ink in Life magazine and time on TV, which suddenly threw a hot spotlight on Venice, the town soon closed up as a beat enclave and its greatest literary lights (dim bulbs all) could not survive drugs, cancer, madness or old age."

William Alexander McClung - Landscapes of Desire: Anglo Mythologies of Los Angeles
includes some discussion of Terry Schoonhoven's mural "Venice in the Snow"

Gardner McKay - Toyer
If you think a dreamboat ex-actor from a mediocre TV series can't write a hell of a good book, this one will make you think again. (McKay himself narrates the audiotape edition, and damn, he's good.) Toyer is a felonious psychopath who has mutilated a dozen women. He agrees to meet a woman doctor for counseling, but she takes along a scalpel and plans to kill him instead. On a dark night she parks at Windward and Ocean and walks out in the sand and....

Ron McLarty - The Memory of Running

Protagonist has to go to Venice to claim the body of his sister, who was mentally ill and missing for a long time.

Mark McMahon - Venice Beach
a thriller he wrote and self-published while in medica school. The author is now an orthopedic surgeon practicing in New York and challenged Hillary Rodham Clinton in a primary election for the U.S. Senate

McNally, William - see Sweet William

Harry Medved, Bruce Akiyama - Hollywood Escapes
Takes you to movie locations1914-2006, including some in Venice. On the Waterfront Café, Rose Hotel, Ocean View Apartments, Cadillac Hotel, Venice Suites, Thornton Tower, Waldorf Apartments, Sidewalk Café

Barbara Meyerhoff - Number Our Days (1980)
There used to be several small synagogues in Venice which were kept alive by the "marching minyan," a group of men who searched the boardwalk area to find the required number to hold a service. In 1979 Anna Belsky was struck by a bicyclist and consequently died, leading to "Life Not Death In Venice" demonstrations and counterdemonstrations by skaters and cyclists. These and many other tales from the people of the Ocean Beach Kosher Guest Home and Aliyah Senior Citizens Center.

Perry Miyake - 21st Century Manzanar
The novel's hero grew up here and graduated from Venice High in 1971, just like the author.

Tom Moran & Tom Sewell - Fantasy by the Sea: A Visual History of the American Venice (1980)
Pretty much sums up Venice right up until the advent of rollerskating. Massively illustrated, includes a large fold-out picture of a motorcycle gathering in the old days.

Julian More, Carey More - Views from the Hollywood Hills (1986)
is said to have some Venice material in it

Walter Mosley - Walkin' the Dog
One of the stories in this collection takes place at Venice Beach

Walter Mosley - A Little Yellow Dog
Easy Rawlins’s friend Jackson calls him from a pool hall in Venice asking for help because there’s a price on his head

Thomas D. Murphy - On Sunset Highways: a Book of Motor Rambles in California (1921)
Venice is the first section

Gloria Nagy - Virgin Kisses
A very kinky novel about a psychiatrist who makes a patient into a sex slave. The writer lived for some time in Venice with her two kids.

Pola Negri - Memoirs of a Star
She used to spend Sundays at Marion Davies's beach house, then they would set out for the Venice Amusement Park to eat hot dogs and hamburgers. Negri claims to have learned to handle a gun at the park's shooting gallery, which came in handy when she later owned a revolver.

B. Z. Niditch - "Family"
a story in which the characters are wading at Venice Beach

Ann Nietzke - Windowlight: A Woman's Journal From the Edge of America (1982)
Nietzke lived above the boardwalk for a year or two then scarpered as soon as the book was written. Some critics complained that her view of Venice was narrow and superficial, and that she observed rather than interacted. Still, she wrote beautifully about it. She called Venice a "marriage of metaphor and geography" which every artist living there wants to express somehow.

Alyson Noel - Faking 19
(teen fiction) parts take place in Venice

William F. Nolan - The Marble Orchard
one of a series about the Black Mask boys: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Earle Stanley Gardner. The gimmick here is that the story, like others in its series, is supposedly narrated by Chandler. The detectives are looking for a bad guy. When they go to his last known address, the manager says he moved a year ago to a trailer park in Venice, and parts of the action take place there. Set in the late 1930s when Venice was in its ugly, oil rig stage.

G. E. Nordell - Gashouse Beat
Actually this book isn’t finished yet.

Joyce Carol Oates - Blonde (2000)
Little Norma Jeane is raised by her grandparents at Venice Beach, and it's a recurring theme in the novel.

William O’Connell - Homeless in Paradise: Communicating with the Bohemian Venice Beach Subculture (2009)

Tillie Olsen - "Tell Me a Riddle"
short story, received the O. Henry first prize in 1961. Was made into a movie in 1980, partly filmed in Venice. Story describes Venice as "the back of the great city" where are found the "dwelling places of the cast-off old." In the story’s era, there is a brief vacation season. "The rest of the year it is abandoned to the old….seemingly empty," with "the boarded concessions, the hooded and tented amusement rides."

Sherman Pearl - Profanities
Poetry by longtime Venice Beachhead sustainer

Stuart Z. Perkoff - Voices of the Lady: Collected Poems (1998)
The majority of these poems are either about Venice or were written there. Perkoff is thought by many to be the quintessential Venice beat poet.

Gary Phillips - Bangers (2003)
LAPD detective runs the TRASH (Tactical Resources Against Street Hoodlums) squad, keeps the crime-infested streets of the Venice clean.

Bhante Walpola Piyananda - Saffron Days in L.A.: Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America
Picture a monk from Sri Lanka "reasoning with a group of confrontational punks on Venice Beach"

Les Plesko - The Last Bongo Sunset (1995)
As a college boy back East, the protagonist saw a documentary about the addicts of LA, formed the ambition to become one, and naturally headed straight for Venice. Anxious to plumb the depths of decadence, he meets a lowlife who sells heroin and pills but doesn’t fool around with that "lightweight hippie crap." If it’s grass you want, Gary is not the go-to guy. However he is a versatile fellow, whose second job is pimping Cassandra and any other female he can bring under his sway. Cassandra and Gary move into the hero’s rented room on the boardwalk, along with a 12-year old throwaway kid named Maria who accepts corruption as her due.
This novel is dedicated to Kate Braverman. When Cassandra is given such lines as "This, too, becomes part of my legend," you gotta wonder if the character is based on Braverman too.
For most people, Venice Beach is a shiny, sun-spangled place, but this little family is more comfortable in the menacing night. Indeed, the whole scene and the lovely Pacific are wasted on them. As Cassandra says, "We never go down there. There’s nothing to do, the sand gets into your clothes. Besides, junkies don’t tan."
Admittedly there is a purity to the skag-driven life: it all comes down the next score. Who else among us has such a clear sense of mission? As Braverman asked in one of her poems, "What would you die for?"

Phil Polizatto - Hunga Dunga
This quintessential hippie era memoir/novel has scenes in Venice and a whole lot more besides. It’s really good.

Marty Poole and Rich Wysockey - Venice Beach: Heart & Soul (2008)
30 years of street performing, features Mad Chad, Tony the Fireman, Jules the Mime, The Calypso Tumblers. It’s a pricey coffee table book.

Tim Powers - Expiration Date
A speculative fiction novel with ghosts. I was tipped off by first finding an intriguing quote from the book: "I'm a hundred years from Venice Beach...." Venice (especially the canals) is the epicenter of horrid events, and people act even crazier than they do in real life. An element of the plot is the circumstance which led Pete Sullivan and his twin sister to quit their job with a small-time movie producer: they refused to work on a muscle beach feature in Venice on Christmas Eve of '86.

Tim Powers - Dinner at Deviant's Palace
One of my very favorite speculative fiction novels, it won the Philip K Dick Award in 1986. Gregorio Rivas is a pelican gunner - that's a virtuoso player of a certain musical instrument - who used to live in Venice and perform at the Bom Sheltr Bar. Venice is a "savage carnival of a town," a place of "dangerous glamour," where unimaginable things go on - especially at Deviant's Palace, the "quintessential nightclub of the damned." Rivas also used to be a redemptionist (like a deprogrammer), a very effective one because he himself had been a jaybird, or cult member. Now the Cult of Jaybush has captured Urania, the great love of his life whom he lost many years back. Her father hires Rivas to reclaim Urania so she can marry someone else. One of Rivas's unusual talents is knowing how to read books from the vanished Electrical Age, when even the coastline was different. Much of the plot involves a really bad drug called Venetian Blood. Powers has said that he first sold an outline of the novel in 1982, then got sidetracked by another major project and finished Dinner quickly. However, it ended up not being published at that time. Later he says "I spent about a year re-writing it. If it had been published in that original version, I'd be embarrassed today..." In Ecology of Fear, Mike Davis describes and quotes from Dinner at Deviant's Palace, and reproduces its cover.

Francesco Proto (editor) - Mass Identity Architecture: Architectural Writings of Jean Baudrillard
see Chapter Two: Cool Towns

go to Books Q - Z


© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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