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Allan Stein Paperback – December 6, 1999
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the story of a young teacher's journey to Paris to uncover the sad history of Gertrude Stein's troubled nephew Allan. The teacher travels to Paris under an assumed name, after being fired from his job because of a sex scandal. In Paris he becomes enchanted and obsessed with a 15 year old boy. Thus the story continues from there.... Forget the pedophiliac part of the story, this should not frighten you away from Matthew Stadler's excellent writing & descriptions of this time and place. His writing is so elegant at times its like reading a classic or it will be in time.
Whether he is shocking the reader, or enticing us with beautiful prose, Matthew Stadler, certainly know how to keep a reader's attention, and take you places you might not dare go alone. This is perhaps his best book yet.
Stadler's sentences are lush and meandering. His descriptions, perhaps overlong, reward with poetic grandeur and learned reference. He is a prose-poet of the senses, akin to Arthur Rimbaud or Garcia Lorca, the latter of whom his lead character uses to seduce a Seattle high school boy he tutors.
His lead character is on paid leave from the school under a cloud of suspicion. He uses the hiatus to investigate an artistic mystery, the life of Allan Stein, famous Gertrude's nephew and the possible model for a famous painting. Matthew moves from rainy Seattle to sumptuous Paris, where the sensual descriptions continue to impress. In a piece of droll postmodern self-referencing, Stadler describes his own style and aims while ostensibly talking about Lorca's: "Lorca's poem might appear to be unreal, but its dreamlike consistency can supplant waking reality by the force of a new coherence & logic."
Edmund White, who soaked himself in all things Parisienne while writing the biography of Jean Genet, admires this book. It is, like White's writing, extremely sophisticated and sensual. Like Stadler's previous novel "Sex Offender," "Allan Stein" shows the ways in which, to use a Nietzschean paraphrase, "Sexuality penetrates the loftiest reaches of the intellect.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." This concept comes to mind after having read this but not because it applies but because it doesn't apply! Read morePublished 5 months ago by S. C. Matthews
Since I started reading about Ernest Hemingway's time in Paris, I've been intrigued with all the folks he knew, including Picasso, Gertude Stein, and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Read morePublished on September 14, 2012 by RSRS
The comparisons of Allan Stein to Lolita are inevitable:
The obsession with the adolescent, the furtive criminal
inevitability, the bathetic conclusion all call one to... Read more
Startlingly intelligent, 'Allan Stein' is a literary novel rich in descriptive detail, imagery and flowing prose which merges the past and the present in a simultaneously witty and... Read morePublished on October 16, 2006 by Elliot
"...I'm threatened by the boy as a site of divinity and spiritual deliverance." -Matthew Stadler
This is not only "a haunting testament to unfulfilled desire" but to... Read more
I agree that this a just another version of "Lolita". But in contrast to "Lolita", the descriptions are much more subtule and less confusing. Read morePublished on December 1, 2004 by Yuki Shinobu
This novel mixes art history with the fictional present. Matthew, a young teacher in a private school, is accused of molesting one of his students. Read morePublished on August 10, 2002 by John Rice
By the end of Allan Stein, you get the feeling that if Stadler was not so apt at words, he'd have made an excellent weatherman. Read morePublished on July 30, 2001 by KIR
Notwithstanding the linguistic pyrotechnics that Matthew Stadler employs to lift this book towards a higher literary plane, "Allan Stein" is nothing more than a lame... Read morePublished on July 15, 2001 by Bernard