Three Month Fever: The Andrew Cunanan Story

Three Month Fever: The Andrew Cunanan Story

by Gary Indiana
     
 

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"It was suddenly chic to be 'targeted' by Andrew...It also became chic to claim a deep personal friendship with Versace, to infer that one might, but for a trick of fate, have been with Versace at the very moment of his 'assassination,' as it had once been chic to reveal one's invitation to Cielo Drive in the evening of the Tate slayings, an

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Overview

"It was suddenly chic to be 'targeted' by Andrew...It also became chic to claim a deep personal friendship with Versace, to infer that one might, but for a trick of fate, have been with Versace at the very moment of his 'assassination,' as it had once been chic to reveal one's invitation to Cielo Drive in the evening of the Tate slayings, an invitation only declined because of car trouble or a previuos engagement. Versace's friends no less than Andrew's friends were helpless not to make hay off the carcass, for the narrative itself excluded from existence all relevant persons who failed to appear, to put their two cents in...and because the narrative had the force of a psychic avalanche it provided the seque ferom the previous marrivtie, extricated the public eye form the previous keyhole, the Andrew narrative, in effect, solved the JonBenét Ramsey murder case, as that case had finally wrapped up the O. J. Simpson case, which in turn had closed the Menendez case, the Andrew mystery would ultimately be solved by the death of Princess Di..." — from Three Month Fever

In Three Month Fever, his first book-length work of nonfiction, Gary Indiana presents the 1997 killing spree of Andrew Cunanan as a peculiarly contemporary artifact, an alloy in which reality and myth have been inseparably combined. The case generated an astonishing sequence of news reports in which the suspect became a "monster," "serial killer," "high-priced homosexual prostitute," "pervert," "master of disguise," "chameleon," and so forth. In reality, this figure of dread bore little resemblance to the scary sociopath of legend.

In following Cunanan's "trail of death," Indiana presents a riveting, fully realized portrait of a very bright, even brilliant young man whom people liked. He had charisma, great looks, and money that he spent very freely on others. He was a sympathetic listener with a phenomenal memory for names, faces, and virtually anything he read or saw. But he didn't fit in anywhere, and he couldn't solve the problem of how to live.

He was trying to do better, to come from a better place, to have a better background. He made up stories about himself that made him feel more like other people or made him seem more interesting than he thought he was.

He wanted to be loved for himself. The two people he thought might love him for himself didn't, and he ended up killing them. This was probably the last thing he wanted to do.

Andrew was compulsively social, and as long as he could establish some intercourse with the outside world he could function, even if he had to conceal the ugly secrets he was accumulating. He could hang out in gay bars in Chicago while on the run, come to New York and live in a bathhouse, go to movies, pick people up. Even after the killing in New Jersey, his crimes were below the threshold of most people's awareness.

But in Miami he found himself trapped, the very places where he expected to "blend in" were informed about who he was and what he looked like. It was isolation he could not deal with—and that led to his total disintegration and the death of Gianni Versace.

Three Month Fever is a tour de force in which Indiana reveals how Andrew Cunanan fell apart over time and what he might have sounded like in his own mind. Rarely has a writer immersed himself in the mind of a killer with such startling effect. Gary Indiana has created a new form of true crime that is as insightful as it is riveting.

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Editorial Reviews

NY Times Book Review
Indiana admirably liberates one "somewhat poignant and depressing but fairly ordinary" life from the post-Versace myth...
Entertainment Weekly
...[S]ardonic, artful....a spellbinding fusion of journalism, social commentary, and novelistic license...
New York Times Book Review
Indiana admirably liberates one "somewhat poignant and depressing but fairly ordinary" life from the post-Versace myth...
Indiana seems much more interested in critiquing the news media than in telling the story of this odd serial killer and his innocent victims.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the years since the 1987 publication of Scar Tissue, his collection of razor-sharp fictional commentaries on contemporary culture, Indiana (Resentment, etc.) has proven himself one of the most astute chroniclers of U.S. mores, media and celebrity, a skilled reporter and journalist whose idiosyncratic, intensely personal writing style enhances rather than detracts from his subjects. In Three Month Fever, he re-creates serial killer Andrew Cunanan's life, including his childhood in a middle-class Filipino family, his participation in gay social scenes and his need and ability to constantly reinvent his persona, as well as his murder of Gianni Versace and subsequent suicide. Not a traditional "facts only" report, a true-crime narrative or a "nonfiction novel," the work is what Indiana calls a "pastiche" of these genres, combining investigative reporting and fictional techniques held together by personal commentary. Indiana often relies upon wholesale invention: "I do not know if Cunanan [did these things]. But I feel that he did, or at the very least something analogous happened... but I have chosen what I consider the most plausible scenarios." Such rampant fabrication may remove Three Month Fever from the realm of strict nonfiction, but makes for electrifying reading. Indiana's re-creation of Cunanan's crimes and ever-shifting states of mind are convincing, but his real story, and strength, is his analysis of the hysterical, wildly inaccurate media coverage of the case. In the end, Cunanan's life and crimes, both factual and reimagined, become Indiana's vehicle to explore and expose how the media create a self-referential and self-perpetuating culture of hysteria, stereotypes, inaccuracies and glorified violence. Although such ideas may seem obvious to media critics, Indiana's writing, at turns dazzling and infuriatingly self-involved, makes them intensely visceral. Agent, Emma Sweeney of Harold Ober Associates. First serial to Out; foreign rights sold in Holland. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Novelist and essayist Indiana (Resentment, 1997; Rent Boy, 1994; etc.) combines fictional and journalistic techniques in this true crime "hybrid of narration and reflection," which is, in his words, "a pastiche" that is "fact-based, but with no pretense to journalistic "objectivity." Andrew Cunanan caught the media's full attention with the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace, an act that was the culmination of a rampage in which Cunanan apparently killed four other men before Versace and himself afterward. Indiana dismisses the media's hypercoverage at the time as largely fanciful: "Cunanan's life was transformed from the somewhat poignant and depressing but fairly ordinary thing it was into a narrative overripe with tabloid evil." Indiana bases his own portrait on interviews with Cunanan's childhood friends, school reports, numerous of his acquaintances in San Diego, and FBI and local police reports. The portrait that emerges from this in-depth probe is of a smooth, clever pathological liar, a well-known, well-dressed, but not especially well-liked member of San Diego's gay subculture. Indiana portrays Cunanan as having a penchant for sadomasochistic sex in which he was the dominating figure. Sometimes kept by an older man, sometimes peddling prescription drugs, Cunanan generally lived well, but in 1997, things took a turn for the worse. With his credit maxed out, he headed for Minnesota to visit two former colleagues, Jeff Trail and David Madson, neither of whom was pleased to see him. Indiana lets his imagination loose on the known forensic data to create the ghastly scenes in which Cunanan murders first Trail (furiously) and then Madson (cold-bloodedly); his brutal S&Mslaying of Lee Miglin, a wealthy older man; and his shooting of a cemetery caretaker whose truck he stole. As Cunanan's life spirals downward, Indiana portrays his psyche taking a nosedive, too. In his version of Versace's shooting, he has the fugitive Cunanan hearing voices that direct his actions. It may not be the truth, but it all seems quite plausible. A vivid and gripping account. (Author tour)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060931124
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/08/1999
Edition description:
Abridged
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)

Read an Excerpt

One

Flight Data

 

On Friday, April 25, Andrew got a ride to San Diego Airport from Kenneth Higgins, a cute blond friend of fairly recent vintage who later described the ride as uneventful, involving scant conversation, San Diego Airport being only a few minutes from Andrew's apartment at 1234 Robinson and practically in San Diego itself. You can, after all, drive from downtown straight through the airport into Point Loma without crossing such epic wastes as separate most cities from most airports. Aside from the brevity of this ride, Andrew had already talked himself silly in the days just previous, to Kenneth Higgins and Robin Thompson and Erik Greenman and various others, some of whom attended Andrew's so-called going-away dinner, about his imminent relocation to San Francisco, and what he termed this little side trip to Minneapolis, claiming among other things to have excellent business prospects in San Francisco, a new apartment, a new roommate, what amounted to a whole new life waiting for him in the city on the bay. These prospects were so auspicious that Andrew had declared his intention to buy a whole new wardrobe, consequently, in the days just prior to this little side trip to Minneapolis, Andrew gave away Missoni sweaters and Dolce & Gabbana suits and Ferragamo shoes, Helmut Lang blazers and Prada jackets, designer clothing items from shops on Rodeo Drive, shops in Milan, shops in San Francisco, pricey garments acquired in the course of his incessant travels, some barely worn, gave them away in an access of insensible largesse, much to the distress of Erik Greenman, Andrew'sroommate, who later complained that Andrew gave many items to near strangers that happened to fit Erik Greenman perfectly.

One of the themes Andrew had developed since his recent trips to Los Angeles and San Francisco was his overwhelming love for David Madson, a neophyte architect in Minneapolis whom few of Andrew's San Diego friends had ever met. According to Andrew, his affair with David Madson had started on a high note the previous summer but faltered and ultimately fizzled because of the long-distance nature of the relationship, and it was only now, when the spark had almost sputtered out entirely, that Andrew realized how much David meant to him. David was, he told Kenneth, the only person in the world he had ever really loved. He had managed to spend the week before Easter or part of the week before Easter in a hotel room with David Madson in Los Angeles, had wined David and dined David and even clothed David in an Armani suit and an Andrew Mark jacket courtesy of Andrew's platinum card, not just David but two of David's friends as well, a so-called model named Karen Lapinski and her fiancé, Evan Wallitt, a yuppie couple from San Francisco, at the Chateau Marmont, Andrew emphasized, which might not have been the priciest place in Los Angeles but was certainly one of the classiest, especially now that Eric Goode had done it over, yet none of this sumptuary excess had worked the desired magic.

Andrew said that his sister was an anesthesiologist who worked in Minneapolis and he said he wanted to try again with David Madson. He told some people that he had unfinished business with Jeffrey Trail, a friend of his who was, unlike David Madson, well-remembered in San Diego, an ex-navy heartthrob Andrew had stuck to like glue for years and years, who had, much to Andrew's dismay, moved to Minneapolis a few months earlier. But Andrew always said a lot of things. Sometimes he said he had served eleven months in Israeli intelligence and sometimes he claimed his family owned the Ace Parking concessions downtown. People liked Andrew for his brassy joie de vivre and his quick tongue and rolled their eyes at his stories when he wasn't looking. Andrew was not a flaming queen, but he did have that hyperbolic theatricality, everything calculated to amuse or impress. He usually gave his name as DeSilva, which didn't really sound Jewish, but Erik, who lived with him and had to know, said his real name was Cunanan, which really didn't either.

Andrew left San Diego carrying a single black nylon duffel bag, and as usual he was, in the parlance of the California Southland, "upbeat."

Two

I'm of two minds about the future, he thought, having developed considerable uncertainty about his precise location on the map of his own existence. His sister Regina lived in San Francisco, not Minneapolis. They'd talked about Andrew moving in with her and Andrew, with part of his mind, was en route to San Francisco, but another part seemed to be traveling to Minneapolis, not for a little side trip, but to set up shop, as he thought of it, a thought having some reverberation in his childhood, when Andrew and a friend played a game called Store, in which they operated a miraculous store where they could sell anything a customer asked for, since at that innocent age he believed that anything demanded could be magically supplied. The smudgy landscapes of National City shimmered in his mind, drought-stunted jacaranda trees, a parched riverbed at the bottom of a hollow, ribbons of tarmac with minimalls and fast-food huts, loan offices and auto repair shops, the occasional fenced enclave of sedentary mobile homes. Trailer parks in National City usually resembled municipal dumps, littered with broken lawn furniture, tires, cinder blocks, and discarded propane canisters. The Catholic churches looked like Howard Johnson's. Everything in National City teetered between the organic ugliness of poverty and the antiseptic ugliness of Target stores and McDonald's franchises.

At the so-called farewell dinner he kept his ambivalence and his recent uncustomary depression in check, though the fact that the guests barely knew one another reminded him that his social existence here had always been disjointed, a matter of part-time residence in many different worlds, and that his friendships misfitted some bold image he held of his place in the....

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Meet the Author

Gary Indiana's novels include Resentment: A Comedy, Rent Boy, Gone Tomorrow, and Horse Crazy. He has published two collections of short fiction and a collection of essays, Let It Bleed. His plays include the award-winning Roy Cohn/Jack Smith, The Roman Polanski Story, and Phantoms of Louisiana. His nonfiction work has appeared in the Village Voice, Artforum, Details, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. He lives in New York and Los Angeles.

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