The story of a young DJ who becomes involved in a life-altering love triangle with two sisters in New York as he pursues his career as a recording artist. He moves to London and eventually experiences the taste of success on the European club circuit, but soon realises that it was not all he hoped for when both he and his close friend and music manager end up single and alone. On a deeper level, the novel explores how time changes human relationships in such a way that powerful experiences from our past eventually become distorted and irrevocable. Written in graceful vivid prose The Black Tide is Antonelli's most moving and heartfelt novel to date. Reading like Flaubert's Sentimental Education meets Goethe's Elective Affinities, but set against the riveting background of the modern electronic music scene in New York/Detroit and London/Berlin, it is a must read for any fan of contemporary music and literature.
Everything comes down to milk and blood, Jimmy Flannigan thought as he looked out across the glossy black sheen of Brooklyn harbour. A pair of blue-grey clouds gathered on the horizon, filtering away the last pink rays of dusk from the great bronze mantle of the Manhattan skyline. Milk and blood. He took a piece of broken glass from his pocket and ran its sharpest edge across his fingertip. A tugboat passed and blew its whistle as if to disrupt his ritual. He watched a few droplets emerge on the surface of his skin and then swell into a deep crimson bulb before falling back into the darkness, vanishing from even the light of the overhanging street lamps as the tugboat blew its whistle one more time. He cocked back his arm and hurled the piece of glass out into the harbour. He waited for the sound of a splash, but heard nothing, as though the glass fragment had suddenly ceased to exist and all his actions leading up to that point in time had never happened. He pulled up the collar of his coat and walked backwards and away from the dock. All that was warm and nurturing in life was milk. All that was dark and intoxicating - even deadly - was blood. Women were both. That’s why he’d never really figured them out. That’s why he felt he would always be their victim. It was that way with his first serious girlfriend Vanessa, when she left him two years earlier, and that way with every woman he had ever know – or at least been in love with. That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger? Maybe. But that which ultimately destroys us is love - and almost by necessity. There was a rustling in a bush behind him and then a third whistle from the harbour. He wiped his fingertip with a handkerchief and began the journey back through Tribeca towards SoHo and then down Canal Street to the Lower East Side. He was going to a party at his friend Robert’s house and he didn’t want to be late.
Robert lived six blocks east of Chinatown in a split level unit on the third floor of a nineteen thirties red brick apartment with deep green awnings right across the street from a local Armenian grocers that sold Russian import beers by the bottle. Jimmy walked up the cracked sidewalk and opened the pair of varnished wooden doors to the front lobby. He walked slowly up the wrought iron staircase to the third floor, his legs still sluggish from a two-hour yoga workout the day before. The loud hum of drunken conversation echoed down the stairwell. He made his way down to the end of the hallway and knocked on the heavy wooden door. There was no answer. A woman’s voice from somewhere inside shouted something about The Green Lantern having no penis and then there was a burst of laughter. After a second attempt, he opened the door and stepped into the foyer. The white plaster walls were decorated with postcards and colourful sketches and an eruption of laughter from deeper inside the apartment suggested the guests had concentrated elsewhere. He took off his shoes and made his way to the kitchen, where two red headed women were so locked in conversation they didn’t seem to notice him. He wrested a beer from a six-pack in the fridge as he had done countless times before and carved his way through a crowd of what looked like varsity recruits to the living room. Robert was nowhere to be seen and most of the faces he didn’t recognise. They seemed like the usual assortment of lower Manhattan types, from the upwardly mobile finance students in designer polo shirts, barren as much of facial hair as wit and intrigue, to the grimly hip east villagers flaunting their dark purple eye make-up and gaudy metal jewellery.
He found a clearing by the far wall beside a scruffy young brunette seated in a wooden chair by the mantelpiece. She was wearing a dark brown suede jacket, torn at the collar and slightly ragged around the cuffs, and a pair of black tights and dark leather boots. Leagues of brown hair hung in rich profusion over her pale and childlike face. Her eyes were round and dark and her white cheeks rouged only by that from within - warmth, blood, sensuality? He watched her out of the corner of his eye. She shifted nervously in her chair, as though she felt suddenly displaced from the people around her. She looked at him for a moment and then pulled back her hair, guiding it through the fold between her neck and shoulder before letting it fall gently across her left breast. Jimmy looked down at the floor and noticed a large spot of blood on his pants that must have dribbled down from his fingertip when he was out on the pier only an hour before. She smiled and made eye contact but he turned away sharply and retreated back into the kitchen. Beauty was always like that, a beacon light stretching into a long dark chasm, illuminating as much as condemning everything that stood before it.