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When the paramedics arrived at the Viper Room on Sunset Strip, River Phoenix had already flat-lined. The actor/singer had turned twenty-three just a few months before. In that short span, this son of "hippieish" parents had lived several lives. With a name partly borrowed from a Herman Hesse novel and a Beatles' song, River Jude Phoenix had spent of his childhood in Venezuela on the outskirts of the infamous cult Children of God. After his impoverished family left the group, they straggled back to the U.S. on a cargo ship. Soon thereafter, young Phoenix began a film and singing career that made him a teen age idol. Extraordinarily talented, yet without any formal education, he was, as this biography notes, an enigma, a wolf child in celebrity land. Gavin Edwards' compelling Last Night at the Viper Room places this short-lived star in the context of a cultural generation and in a world ultimately only his.