Local Serial Novel Shows Vexing Side of Mill Avenue

Many tales unfold along Mill Avenue in Tempe every weekend, whether it's a philosophical exchange with a bongo-beating busker or a drunken encounter with ASU cheerleaders at the Cherry Lounge. But one Tempe resident has made Mill Avenue the setting for an elaborate serial novel.

Cover illustration copyright © 2008 Rebecca Gunter : http://soap-committee.deviantart.com

Mill Avenue Vexations is an ongoing literary project of Kyt Dotson, a former anthropology major at ASU who hangs out on the busy Tempe strip every weekend. The novel revolves around the character of Vex Harrow, a goth hottie who drives a cab for a living. Many of the stories revolve around Vex's fares, friends, and family conflicts, and include details of familiar Mill hangouts like the Graffiti Shop and the Coffee Plantation.

Dotson's been doing this since 2005, when he self-published the first volume of Mill Avenue Vexations. He's currently on his 9th volume, and has also produced seven one-off "single stories" set on Mill and featuring the character of Vex Harrow. Dotson's series has become popular through Internet availability, and also through Dotson himself, who hands out free copies of each volume on Mill Avenue when they come out (look for a guy with long black hair, a cane, and a black strip painted over his eyes).

The writing inside the volumes of Mill Avenue Vexations is intricate, filled with character details like "James had slicked back his hair and wore a fishnet shirt that showed off his every individual flexing muscle" (from "Lost Sphinx Cat") and descriptions such as "They sparred in guarded pantomime" (from "All the Night's a Stage").

Dotson calls his series "Gothic Occult Fiction Featuring Detective Vex Harrow" and has already inspired some fan fiction based on his characters. Check out the Mill Avenue Vexations Web site for the fan fiction, full stories, and more. -- Niki D'Andrea

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