Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind

Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind

4.3 17
by Gavin Edwards
     
 

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In Last Night at the Viper Room, acclaimed author and journalist Gavin Edwards vividly recounts the life and tragic death of acclaimed actor River Phoenix—a teen idol on the fast track to Hollywood royalty who died of a drug overdose in front of West Hollywood’s storied club, the Viper Room, at the age of 23.

Last Night at the Viper Room<

Overview

In Last Night at the Viper Room, acclaimed author and journalist Gavin Edwards vividly recounts the life and tragic death of acclaimed actor River Phoenix—a teen idol on the fast track to Hollywood royalty who died of a drug overdose in front of West Hollywood’s storied club, the Viper Room, at the age of 23.

Last Night at the Viper Room explores the young star’s life, including his childhood in Venezuela growing up under the aegis of the cultish Children of God. Putting him at the center of a new generation of leading men emerging in the early 1990s— including Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt, Nicolas Cage, and Leonardo DiCaprio—Gavin Edwards traces the Academy Award nominee’s meteoric rise, couches him in an examination of the 1990s, and illuminates his lasting legacy on Hollywood and popular culture itself.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-20
Twenty years later, the overdose death of a promising young actor doesn't seem to be quite enough to fill a book, even one as well-written as this one. River Phoenix (1970–1993) was only 23 when he died, and though he'd shown a precocious talent as a child actor and singer, he'd only made two movies of note (Stand by Me and My Private Idaho) before an addict's carelessness let him swallow something he shouldn't have. A veteran pop-culture writer for magazines, Edwards ('Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy and Other Misheard Lyrics, 1995) has the makings of a solid article in this commemoration of the actor's death, life and career, but the context he provides feels like padding: the career progressions of other actors of the same generation, production details of films best forgotten, speculation on what he might have achieved if he hadn't died, and the history of the Viper Room and its owner, Johnny Depp, whose connection with Phoenix otherwise seems tenuous at best. The book is more researched than reported, relying on other books and magazines as well as a few interviews with those who were mainly on the periphery of the actor's life. The early material about his parents, hippies who succumbed to a sexually promiscuous religious sect, makes for fascinating reading, but his descent into drugs is familiar and sad, a decline further undermined by denial. In the tick-tock narrative of his final hours, his brother Joaquin responded, after others were alarmed by the sidewalk seizures and suggested he call 911, "He's fine, he's fine." Depp apparently didn't recognize the figure causing the commotion outside his club. But the strict vegan with the warm heart, strong work ethic and increasingly debilitating drug excess needed help long before that. For Phoenix fans who want to relive that night and mourn what might have been.
Rob Sheffield
“Twenty years after his death, River Phoenix remains as enigmatic and elusive as ever. Last Night at the Viper Room tells the heart-shredding story of how this haunted actor left such a big impression in such a brief time.”
USA Today
“What Edwards does do impeccably is reveal the life of an extraordinary young man, whose idealism and dedication to his family, despite crippling childhood conditions, set him apart from the rest of the rising star pack.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062273154
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/22/2013
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
847,908
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.01(d)
Lexile:
1100L (what's this?)

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Meet the Author

Gavin Edwards is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone who has written five articles for the magazine about Blink-182 for the magazine since 1999. He is the New York Times bestselling author of seven books. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his wife and their two sons.

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Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Donna_Coleman More than 1 year ago
An amazing book! Filled with introspection on River Phoenix's life, his fall into drug abuse, his untimely death outside the Viper Room, and the Hollywood he left behind. A true star whose time came too soon. Five stars.
BrentThorne More than 1 year ago
Last Night at the Viper Room is a story of the death of rising star River Phoenix. He had such a promising life ahead of him. The book talks about his drug addiction and death. It is very interesting.
SarahMcClurg More than 1 year ago
Gavin Edwards is a brilliant author. The book Last Night at The Viper Room is a tribute to the tragic O.D. of River Phoenix, his brilliant career, and his untimely death. River could have been one of the true greats, but as the book points out - we will never know. A highly recommended book.
L_L53 More than 1 year ago
I remember some things about River Phoenix and reading this book made him more real to me. He was quite a good young man, though he was lead down the wrong path. I think he would've been a great actor and had a good future, had he stayed away from the drugs. I was fascinated in his personality and responsible attitude, but I was also sad knowing that River was going to die and leave the family that loved him. The writing was good and the author had really done his homework. The acting world truly suffered a loss at his death. I had trouble putting the book down, because it was written so well to River's memory. I enjoyed reading about his family as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my childhood movie crush. I first saw him in Stand By Me. There are too many drugs out there now I can only imagine then. He took a drink from a "TRUSTED" friend that ended it all. I can't believe his family didn't want the man prosecuted. River you are missed, and you would have been awesome in Interview!! May you rest in peace!
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Great book.
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