Admirers of the Mauve Decade and of Thomas Beer's tart purple prose will take this book to their hearts. The subject is the old Chelsea district of New York City, between 14th Street and 23rd Street running west from Broadway. Famous figures strut through the text trailing feathers and wicked reputations, and famous landmarks come alive again. The Hotel Chelsea is still alive and industriously offbeat; it has housed such celebrities as Thomas Wolfe, Farrell, Brendan Behan, Arthur Miller, Mark Twain, Dylan Thomas, O. Henry, and is perhaps the last great bastion of privacy for literati and painters in New York. We follow the murder by Stanford White of Harry K. Thaw while Evelyn Nesbit stands by like a pubertical Corybant. (Evelyn might be characterized as a girl with no fear of orgies.) Murder was everpresent on 23rd Street and confession a way of life. We haven't seen the illustrations but the commentary is an exercise in perfidy, gaudy metropolitanism and lavender drunkenness.