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Literature / Love and Death on Long Island

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A 1990 novel by Gilbert Adair, giving a modern and humorous update on Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. The narrator, Giles De'Ath, is a middle-aged novelist from a wealthy family who's so cut off from pop culture that he's never even heard of home video. But one day he stumbles into a cinema playing a tacky teen sex comedy and falls for one of its actors, a Teen Idol named Ronnie Bostock. Giles becomes obsessed, to the point of tracking down Ronnie at his home on Long Island to try to break up his engagement.
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In 1997, the novel was adapted into a film starring John Hurt, Jason Priestley, and Fiona Loewi.


Love and Death on Long Island contains examples of:

  • Altar the Speed: The acceleration of Ronnie's wedding plans goads Giles into desperate action.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Giles blurts this out after trying and failing to talk Ronnie into an artistic partnership.
  • Butt-Monkey/The Woobie: Giles notices that Ronnie is typecast as "one of nature's victims, as one whose blood is meant for shedding."
  • Celeb Crush
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Giles attempts this creatively by cutting and pasting images of Ronnie's head onto a gay porn magazine.
  • Diner Brawl: Happens in the movie scene where Giles first sees Ronnie.
  • Hopeless with Tech: When Giles eventually learns of the existence of home video, he orders a VCR without realizing that he needs a television to plug it into.
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  • If It's You, It's Okay: Giles says he had no sexual interest in men before meeting Ronnie, despite the fact that his British boys' school upbringing gave him plenty of opportunities.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: Giles is a regular customer at a (nonsexual) massage parlor, where the masseur has the classic LOVE-HATE tattoo.
  • Lighter and Softer: Adair took the pedophilia and disease out of Death in Venice and turned it into a humorous tale of culture clash. The film makes it lighter still.
  • Longing Look: In the film, Ronnie's fiancée starts suspecting Giles' motives when she sees him doing this.
  • Lover and Beloved: Giles aspires to this. He even mentions the tradition of great artists taking younger male lovers.
  • Older Than They Look: Ronnie plays teenagers in movies and Giles at first assumes he is one, but Ronnie is actually in his 20s.
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  • Punny Name: Giles De'Ath, for Pete's sake.
  • Shout-Out: In the film, Ronnie's pose at the end of the Diner Brawl resembles Henry Wallis' painting The Death of Chatterton
  • Stalker with a Crush: Pretty much the whole plot.
  • Stylistic Suck: The clips of Ronnie's terrible movies.
  • Teen Idol: Ronnie.

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