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The Occidental Hotel

The Occidental Hotel

By John Mays Anne Collins

"Mays’s passion for art electrifies fascinating sketches of Beuys." -Quill and Quire

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.


Guernica Editions (Essential Prose Series)


250 pages |

Regular price $20.00 CAD
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Mays’s passion for art electrifies fascinating sketches of Beuys.

What Mays does well in the novel is to write impeccable prose and create suspense. There is a lot of “where is he going with this” throughout the book or perhaps better put “is he really going in that direction.” To a certain extent, he does stir up some empathy for his confused anti-hero narrator. Capturing the Zeitgeist of the experimental artists of the 1970s and 80s is another notable feature of Mays’ writing. The author was, after all, Canada’s leading art critic.

Ottawa Review of Books

The Occidental Hotel is a shockingly good book . . . And although it touches on many ideas and things, and is deeply pleasurable to read because of the masterful quality of Mays’s gifted language, it is finally and fundamentally a critique and satire of Western white supremacy and the attending wickedness and lunacy of that historical and current force.

Border Crossings Magazine


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