- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (6 Dec. 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802136621
- ISBN-13: 978-0802136626
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 18.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,059,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Allan Stein: A Novel Paperback – 6 Dec 1999
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Allan Stein spent an enchanted childhood hovering at the elbow of his aunt, that most celebrated and littlest read of Americans in Paris, Gertrude Stein. In Seattle, 90 years on, schoolteacher Matthew needs something to fill his time after complaints from a boy's parents causes his school to dispense with his services. When he tires of afternoons with 15-year-old Dogan, Matthew steals the identity of curator friend Herbert Widener, and heads to Paris on the trail of some Picasso sketches that may, or may not, be of Allan Stein. And there he falls for another 15-year-old boy, Stephane.
Like Stadler's controversial last novel, The Sex Offender, Allan Stein's poetic but uncompromising sexuality will appal those to whom the notion of "age of consent" refers to age rather than consent. As Gertrude herself wrote, "What is the use of being a boy, if you grow up to become a man?" But this is no gay Lolita. Stadler's "boys" are erotic beings in their own right, described lovingly and at length, though the narrator archly gives his readers the chance to skip the sex scenes (how many will?). Allan Stein's eroticism is crucial, lying at the heart of its rebuilding of a gay literary heritage that uncomfortably straddles the West Coast and old Europe. Very little being written today is as fine as this. -- Alan Stewart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A brave book which stands tall with a kind of marvellous deluded splendour." -- Independent
"A smart, brave, funny and sexy novel." -- Peter Cameron
"Blackly comic. Thrilling. Truly original." -- Spectator
"He is among a handful of first-rate young American novelists. The writing and the composition of this evocation of the Paris Cityscape and its seductive denizens are remarkable." -- New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Our narrator is a school teacher 'on leave' following a (false) accusation concerning a teenage pupil, made by the latter's parents. Ironically, the accusation gives rise to a genuine relationship with the boy. As this subsequent relationship wanes, the narrator becomes caught up in the fantasy of the long-deceased subject of a Picasso portrait. He sets off to Paris, under the guise of being a museum curator, searching for some Picasso sketches of the boy in question. Initially comfortable with this liberating change of identity, the narrator becomes infatuated with the teenage son of the family with whom he is lodging in Paris. The novel then charts the course of his relationship with the boy, the boy's family, and the myriad of other enigmatic characters that he encounters .
Indeed, Matthew Stadler's gift for characterisation is partly what draws the reader so deeply into the narrator's world. The intimate portrayal of the 15 year old boy, Stéphane, is particularly honest and vivid. There are no delusions here - the boy may be stunningly beautiful (the moment of meeting him "made a tear in the fabric" of the narrator's day) but equally (referring to Stéphane's 'digestive problems') it proves "alarming that such an exquisite surface could contain all that flatulence"). The author's descriptions of the boy's mother, Miriam, and the narrator's own mother, are equally realistic and clear - which serves as a stark contrast with the narrator's own, more fluid, personality and sense of self.Read more ›
Now at a loose end he concocts a plan with his friend Herbert, curator of a local art museum, to go to Paris in search of some early Picasso sketches supposedly of Allan Stein, nephew of Gertrude Stein. Posing as Herbert, Matthew departs for Europe where he stays with a local family and their fifteen year old son Stéphane, who soon captivates Matthew with his beauty, with the inevitable consequences.
Well written and frequently very funny, Allan Stein is an imaginative interweaving of fact and fiction. Descriptive passages abound, from the beauty of the scenery in Europe to the beauty of Stéphane's youthful body. Unfortunately Matthew does not come over as endearing as one might like, but rather as a little arrogant and shallow; it is yet a most pleasurable, entertaining and titillating, even enlightening, read.
I can recommend Nicholas Dee wholeheartedly but I would steer clear of this one.