AT A RECENT READING HELD IN NEW York City for Three Month Fever, Gary Indiana prefaced his presentation of selections from the book--a self-described "hybrid nonfiction" of "narration and reflection" about serial killer Andrew Cunanan--with a startling monologue: a brief and grueling but by now familiar account of dispossession, murder, and population transfer told in the person of an ethnic Albanian driven out of Kosovo. As this character gazes back across the border from Albania to the smoky rubble of his home province, he asks, "Is that all it takes... is that all it takes to have a genocide?"

This anecdote--and another that followed, with the upshot, "Is that all it takes to have a high-school massacre?"--may initially have shocked the Barnes & Noble audience, not to mention the somnolent shoppers in the nearby Self-Improvement section. But the book excerpts that followed quickly illustrated the concern common to Three Month Fever and that introductory feuilleton, indeed to most of Indiana's writings in fiction and nonfiction: the cheapness of death in the times into which we have been born. And on top of that, the utter cheapness of our vast and easy knowledge of it. In the case of Andrew Cunanan's murders, just as in Yugoslavia and Littleton, the average person is provided with mountains of "knowledge," information, evidence, reported speculation, indications, "breaking news"--all free of charge, and worth every penny.

To read Three Month Fever is to realize that however much you may have heard or read about Andrew Cunanan--and in my case that's a lot, beginning long before Gianni Versace passed away--every statement you heard about him was an absolute act of preventing you from knowing anything at all. The author, no less than anyone else, is a victim of this. But he makes a virtue of it, transforming media obfuscation into the point of his book: not to expose it, but to exploit it even further. By telling us what he has been able to find out and what he has been forced to invent, Indiana shows up nearly everyone else who has written about this case, who invented nearly everything without saying so. (The process is hilariously dramatized in Three Month Fever in a TV-movie scene parodying a certain other Cunanan author desperately stuffing words into the mouth of a hapless "witness"--a waiter who once served Cunanan a cup of coffee--in order to boost her theory that Cunanan was fueled by crystal meth.)

Elsewhere, in an immense but immaculately organized sentence à la Thomas Bernhard, Indiana damningly examines the entire gamut of more or less ludicrous versions of the rumored encounter between Cunanan and Versace in San Francisco, which supposedly sparked Cunanan's derangement and led to Versace's murder. Indiana curtly notes what the insane litany makes obvious: that this ostensible meeting "like so many things produced by journalism is a bit too tiny and thinly charged for an entire person to orbit around it from 1990 to 1997, however deranged and ridiculous he turned out to be." It's those vast lacunae, between whatever real or made-up sensational events were supposed to have triggered the assassin's bullet, that Indiana sketches in with the mundane details--again, real or made-up--of a life largely like so many others, revealing as if for the first time that a human being killed Gianni Versace.

For reporters like the one parodied in the book, it takes a decadent homosexual underworld--and a cardboard drug-fueled maniac--to make a serial killing. In that "Tale of Two Fags," as Indiana calls it, an obsessive psycho loser fag who pathetically wants to be famous becomes possessed by the transformation of a crass designer into a "spiritually wise" genius fag. This narrative, in which celebrity equals being, has been "locked in place since the Kennedy assassination: World's most important person slain by world's least important person."

Instead of giving in to this simple formula, Indiana conspicuously circumscribes an absence wherever Andrew Cunanan is supposed to be. Just like the holes on the dust jacket in the place of Cunanan's eyes, Indiana's gaps are lightly littered with the piquant detritus of a typical American life, prompting the question, "Is that all it takes to have a four-state killing spree?" The answer, of course, is yes.

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