9780802136626

Allan Stein

Matthew Stadler

ISBN 10: 0802136621 / 0-8021-3662-1
ISBN 13: 9780802136626
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
Comic, erotic, and richly imagined, Allan Stein follows the journey of a compromised young teacher to Paris to uncover the sad history of Gertrude Stein's troubled nephew Allan. Having been fired from his job because of a sex scandal involving a student, the teacher travels to Paris under an assumed name -- that of his best friend, Herbert. In Paris, "Herbert" becomes enchanted by Stephane, a fifteen-year-old boy. As he unravels the gilded but sad childhood of Allan Stein, "Herbert" is haunted by memories of his own boyhood, particularly his odd, flamboyant mother. Moving from the late twentieth century back to the 1900s, effortlessly blending fact and fiction, Allan Stein is a charged exploration of eroticism, obsession, and identity.

Review:
Here are some facts: "Allan Daniel Stein was born November 7, 1895, in San Francisco, the only child of Michael and Sarah Stein. Mike, the older brother of Leo and Gertrude, sold a streetcar business in 1903 and moved with Sarah and Allan to Paris. Gertrude and Leo had preceded them." Here are some fictions: Three missing Picasso sketches may establish that Allan was the model for the painting Boy Leading a Horse. An initially unnamed narrator, fired from a teaching position for having sex with a 15-year-old student before he'd actually seduced the boy, assumes the identity of his close friend Herbert, a Seattle museum curator, and goes to Paris to look for the drawings. There, he becomes obsessed with Stéphane, another 15-year-old boy.

Like Nabokov's Lolita, Allan Stein depicts human sexuality in a way that is as captivating as it is disturbing. But the pedophiliac element--and its graphic manifestations--should not necessarily frighten readers away. Matthew Stadler's ornate, twisting sentences show strong sensitivity to place and setting, whether he's describing the streets of Paris, the French countryside, or a cluttered bar in Seattle. There's also a strong undercurrent of ironic humor, particularly in the exchanges between the narrator and the real Herbert and in the narrator's memories of adventures shared as a boy with his mother. Allan Stein is a book (and Matthew Stadler an author) one might be tempted to ignore as "difficult." In doing so, however, one would be overlooking a unique gem. --Ron Hogan

Review

Review:
Comic, erotic, and richly imagined, Allan Stein follows the journey of a com-promised young teacher to Paris to uncover the sad history of Gertrude Stein's troubled nephew Allan. Having been fired from his job because of a sex scandal involving a student, the young teacher decides that a change of scenery is in order. He enlists his best friend, a museum curator by the name of Herbert Widener, to help him get out of Seattle. It so happens that Herbert had been planning a business trip to Paris to find Picasso's missing 1906 drawings of Allan Stein, the only child in the charmed circle of Gertrude Stein's Paris.

After some convincing, Herbert allows his troubled friend to go in his place, using his own name and passport. In Paris "Herbert" discovers an unusual family that welcomes him, and he becomes enchanted by one particular family member, a fifteen-year-old boy named Stphane. As he unravels the gilded but sad childhood of Allan Stein, "Herbert" is haunted by memories of his own boyhood, particularly his odd, flamboyant mother. Moving through the glitter and pomp of the Parisian art world, he becomes more and more entangled in his masquerade and finds himself increasingly bedeviled by his feelings for Stphane, with whom he ultimately absconds to the south of France. Moving from the late twentieth century back to the 1900s, effortlessly blending fact and fiction, Allan Stein is a charged exploration of eroticism, obsession, and identity.

Matthew Stadler's three previous novels, Landscape: Memory, The Dissolution of Nicholas Dee, and The Sex Offender, have earned him Guggenheim and Ingram-Merrill fellowships and a Whiting Writer's Award. He is the literary editor of Nest magazine and senior writer for The Stranger. He lives in Seattle.

"What makes Allan Stein unusual is the lyric suppleness and restraint of the writing. . . . Stadler demonstrates that is among the handful of first-rate young American novelists, one with a wide reach and quirky, elegant pen. The writing and the composition of this evocation of the Paris cityscape and its seductive denizens are remarkable"-Edmund White, The New York Times Book Review"

"Allan Stein has the qualities of the sublime. Not the diluted modern sense of the word, but in its older combination of beauty and menace, fascination and dread. . . . A novel of extraordinary imagination and beauty."-John Perry, The San Francisco Chronicle

"Stadler's broad scope encompasses family life, desire, and concepts of gayness. Allan Stein delicately traces the commerce between manhood and boyhood, in the mid and in the flesh, while meandering through space and history."-Hugh Rowland, The Bay Guardian

"Beautifully written . . . dazzling prose . . . Mathew's dangerously romanticized view of the relationship, Europe, and the elusive Allan Stein gives the novel its uneasy charm."-Hugh Garvey, The Village Voice Literary Supplement

"Matthew Stadler has perfect pitch. Allan Stein sings with the same lucid prose that graced his previous works. . . . Stadler's clear writing carries a story about one of our grittier taboos; adult male sexual desire for teenage boys. The book succeeds in its exploration of such controversial content in large part because of Stadler's elegant writing and unrelenting candor."-Judy Doenges, The Seattle Times

"Allan Stein is gorgeously written, but it's a host of other things as well: smart, brave, funny, and sexy. It's the kind of novel that makes you glad that you are alive and reading. It makes you happy that Matthew Stadler is alive and writing."-Peter Cameron

"The sentences stopped me in my tracks and made me catch my breath. A beautiful, sad, and creepy book."-Rebecca Brown

"A brilliant kaleidoscope. His finest and most entertaining novel."-James Purdy

"Erotic and sensuous at the same time, lovingly attentive to detail and permeated with Nabokovian grace and intelligence . . . A pleasure from start to finish."-Lydia Davis

"Matthew Stadler is among the foremost gifted, vigorous, and original novelists of our time. His new novel, Allan Stein, is as shapely as Henry James and far outdoes Nabokov in erotic realism."-Guy Davenport

From the Back Cover

Editorial reviews may belong to another edition of this title.
 

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