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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.

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.