South Beach: The Novel

( 3 )

Overview

Gabriel Tucker is a globe-trotting, trust fund–endowed twenty-nine-year-old who suddenly finds himself penniless and alone in the world, except for an old Miami Beach apartment building named the Venus De Milo Arms, the last thing of value left to him by his now-vanished family. Lacking skills or resources, he heads to Miami Beach to reconstruct his life, finding himself neighbors with an unlikely mix of tenants: an elderly Holocaust survivor, a lip-synching drag queen, a cynical two-bit gossip columnist, and a ...

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South Beach: The Novel

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Overview

Gabriel Tucker is a globe-trotting, trust fund–endowed twenty-nine-year-old who suddenly finds himself penniless and alone in the world, except for an old Miami Beach apartment building named the Venus De Milo Arms, the last thing of value left to him by his now-vanished family. Lacking skills or resources, he heads to Miami Beach to reconstruct his life, finding himself neighbors with an unlikely mix of tenants: an elderly Holocaust survivor, a lip-synching drag queen, a cynical two-bit gossip columnist, and a rebellious young performance artist who will eventually capture his heart. Within days, Gabriel is thrust into the outrageous world of South Beach, Miami of the nineties: temptations, quick fortunes, mountains of drugs, notorious murders, nonstop sex, and beautiful women (and men) for sale (or rent) are the order of the day. He is a ringside witness to the excesses and intrigues of Italian fashion empires, Cuban refugee supermodels, rapacious German developers, old-fashioned crooked politicians, and a cast of characters that would make Caligula blush. It is in South Beach that Gabriel will eventually discover the long-buried mysteries of his family and find a soul he never imagined he had and a love he never dreamed he deserved.

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Editorial Reviews

Henry Alford
Brian Antoni's candy-colored and warmhearted second work of fiction, would make a terrific opera. Though South Beach isn't camp—it lurks in the wings thereof, its bejeweled turban only slightly askew—it revels in a kind of surface detail that might easily be mistaken for it. Rich with club scenes and descriptions of offbeat forms of physical congress, this story of one man's moral and sexual flowering might best be described as an arrested bildungsroman with a predilection for the psycho-sexual…If Antoni's characters suggest an effort to portray one of each of Miami's demographic sectors—artist, check; Cuban refugee, check; person with AIDS, check; old duffer, check—that is because he means the book to encapsulate the social makeup of a city he clearly loves…What saves this schematic approach from sinking the book is the author's vivid imagination.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Gabriel Tucker's gargantuan trust fund has allowed him to spend his life traveling and partying, so he's none too pleased to receive a letter informing him that his uncle has blown all the money in the trust, and the only thing Gabriel has left is a crumbling hotel on South Beach. Gabriel finds the Venus De Milo Arms inhabited by a lip-synching tranny, an AIDS-afflicted gossip columnist, an elderly woman obsessed with her wardrobe and a performance artist named Marina, whom Gabriel promptly falls in love with. Their lives intertwine along with those of a Cuban refugee-cum-supermodel and a fashion designer obsessed with making South Beach's gaudy dilapidation the new chic. As Marina struggles with the past that keeps her from returning Gabriel's affection and the Venus de Milo Arms is threatened with becoming the next pile of rubble on the road to progress, Gabriel starts to realize that the old hotel may be the only place in the world that he can call home. Antoni delights in describing in pornographic detail the absurdities of South Beach (drugs, sex, freakish locals), but he never gets beneath South Beach's chipped veneer. The light treatment has its moments, but it isn't quite satisfying. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
For the past several years, Gabriel Tucker has lived riotously courtesy of a trust fund, but now . . . Gabriel's uncle Ian delivers the bad news: "I regret to inform you that by the time you get this letter, I'll be dead and you'll be broke." Uncle Ian has been speculating with Gabriel's bankroll, and all that's left for him is a run-down art-deco building called the Venus de Milo Arms ("a sunny place for shady people") in South Beach, a city Gabriel has never visited. He falls into a love-hate relationship with this architectural gem-or monstrosity, depending on your point of view. It seems some high rollers want to buy it, tear it down and put up multimillion-dollar condos with ocean views. Gabriel quickly bonds with some of the outre residents of the place, including Holocaust survivor Miss Mera Levy; kinky Skip, who's "into pain"; Pandora, a lip-synching transvestite waiting for sex-reassignment surgery; and most notably Marina, a gorgeous performance artist who's also the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (aka the "genius grant"). We also follow the fortunes of Jesus Mas Canosa, a Cuban male prostitute who flees to America on a raft, immediately meets the multimillionaire designer Salvatore Fabrizio (later assassinated-hmm) and gets a fat contract to be in ads for designer underwear. (His tag line: "America is fantastico!") Halfway through the novel, Antoni (Paradise Overdose, 1994) starts pressing the sympathy pedal rather too hard. He wants to produce an emotional reaction from the reader when Miss Levy dies and when Skip gets AIDS, but these serious issues get sidelined in a narrative defined by froth. Antoni does nothing by halves: His characters are overdone, overripe oroversexed-or a combination of the three.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802170439
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/21/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 9, 2010

    reminiscent of the hot L baltimore

    a charming little book about a group of quirky people living in south beach...what's not to love about a book about the Venus de Milo Arms??

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2008

    Everything you want to know about South Beach but were afraid to ask

    This book is a really good. I took it to the beach and stayed so long I got burned because I couldn't stop reading. I wish I lived in South Beach.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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