Author: Gavin Edwards
The life, death, and mystery of one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars, River Pheonix.
If you’ve been creeping on my Goodreads account, then you know that I’m a huge fan of biographies and memoirs. Even if the person doesn’t mean much to me, I’ll still read it. Half because I enjoy learning about the lives and experiences of other people, and half because I’m nosey as hell.
One of my favorite biography subgenres is Old Hollywood. I’ve read the biographies of Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles and the like, and not to make you feel old but River Phoenix is the newest addition to that list. Being born in 1995, I had no opinion on River Phoenix. In fact, I knew next to nothing about him. I didn’t even know he had been Joaquin Phoenix’s older brother. The only thing I knew was that he, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt were the same kind of guys and were fighting for the same roles.
I wanted to know why when people started to remember River Phoenix, why the words “tragic”, “shocking”, and “beautiful” always ended up together. So I picked this book up.
The book gets 3 stars because while I didn’t find this book a chore to read, I was confused by the incredible love and admiration that the author had for River. When I read a biography I like for there to be some style or passion, but this book read like a letter to a lover.
Also, River Phoenix was kind of annoying. That’s probably a terrible thing to write about a dead person but jeez, the guy was incredibly pretentious and overly sensitive to the point that it was insane.
What vegan leaves his date and runs out of the restaurant crying because she ordered crabs? River, River Phoenix.
It gets 3 stars because River’s life was interesting but also typical of a “Hollywood Tragedy”. His home life wasn’t the greatest. His parents were hippies who joined a cult and moved to South America and had more kids than they could feed. When they moved back to the states they expected their kids to provide for the family and there went River off to the movies. His parents let him do what he wanted, where he wanted and things went wrong. The author did his best to insinuate that the life River lived growing up contributed to his death. While not farfetched, it was a little aggressive.
Last Night at the Viper Room was a dramatic retelling of the life and death of River Phoenix. If you enjoy drama and willowy writing and have some sort of thing for River Phoenix I say go ahead and pick this up. However, if you’re into more impartial storytelling, I would avoid this.