The Occidental Hotel
By Richard Rhodes
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A brooding fugitive hides out in a crumbling hotel that was once filled with celebrities enjoying the successes of postwar America. He is a racist with a criminal past, an anti-hero who reflects on the ruins of the South and simultaneously on the life of a German performance artist called Jupp. The fictional Jupp is a thinly-veiled cipher for the late real-life German artist, Joseph Beuys, and the photos in the novel are photos of the performances by the controversial Beuys. At once echoing the moody worlds of W. G. Sebald and incorporating outrageous elements of pulp fiction, this novel of dark romanticism is not for optimists seeking redemption, but for those willing to take a look into a searing heart of darkness.