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Allan Stein Paperback – December 6, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (December 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802136621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802136626
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

...Stadler demonstrates that he is among the handful of first-rate young American novelists, one with a wide reach and a quirky, elegant pen. -- The New York Times Book Review, Edmund White --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It's not a book where you finish each chapter and you have to 'keep reading'.
Michael J. Armijo
Don't get me wrong, he describes things almost fully, but he does it in a manner that seems chaste to me.
Yuki Shinobu
His writing is so elegant at times its like reading a classic or it will be in time.
Joseph J. Hanssen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joseph J. Hanssen on September 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this very funny, erotic and different novel. Matthew Stadler is probably one of the most gifted young novelists writing today. Even though his books are disturbing, they have a way of captivating you so that you can't wait to read the book right through. I lost some sleep over this one.
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.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Pretty Sinister on July 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Am I the only one who thinks this book is funny? The "eroticism" is utterly laughable. Isn't that the point? Isn't this Stadler's light-hearted version of "Lolita" from a gay perspective? The narrator is an immature overgrown teen himself. Obsessed with anatomy and sex in a way only an adolescent's mind can be. How can anyone take two page long descriptions of a fifteen-year-old soccer boy's body seriously? Its hyperbolic on purpose. And I'm a little tired of people complaining about this underage thing. The boy in the book is 15... not 8 or 7 or 5... and the narrator is hardly over 35. There are plenty of relationships, both gay and straight, where there are age differences of 15 or 20 years. I like this book. The style is arch, witty and satirically pretentious. I don't find the humor forced at all and I smiled a lot without a trace of wincing. Also, I returned from a trip to Paris last month and the French setting made the book all the more enjoyable and had me longing to return to check out all the places I missed
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Matthew Stadler writes very well--sometimes heart-stoppingly well--and is bold both in experimenting with narratives and in again and again and again focusing on loving boys, an extremely fraught subject in contemporary America. I think that his first novel, Landscape:Memory, remains his most fully accomplished book (and, OK, it makes me more comfortable when the boylover is not an older man). Still, I like the ironical voice of the narrator in his desultory research on Gertrude Stein's nephew, his account of his friendship with a gay man of his own age in Seattle, and of his obsession with the son of the family with whom he's staying in Paris. The endings of all four of his novels seem forced to me, but I find the sensibility interesting and some of the sentences jewels. Anyone who believes that adolescent males lack any sexuality will be upset by the book. Others may still want to shake the narrator out of his complacencies and wonder if Mr. Stadler is in a rut -- even noting the different locales and eras represented in his oeuvre to date.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Stadler's book is a remarkable novel. His prose, of course, is incandescent and his sense of place as good as anyone writing today. The novel goes back and forth between the Steins' Paris at the turn of the century and late twentieth-century Paris. The novel--a story of obssession and erotic turmoil--begins and ends as a haunting testament to unfulfilled desire. My University class on gblt fiction read the book and found it funny, disturbing, terribly sad at times, and, as one student said, "Impossible to put down...I read it in one sitting." With each novel, Stadler's writing becomes more complex, elegant, and surprising. Allan Stein is his best book yet.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Schmitz on April 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Stadler is in his ornate phase. The usual development of an artist in any medium is toward the baroque and ornate, a place the Beatles arrive at with St. Pepper's or Abbey Road in the late 1960s. It is, I confess, my favorite phase. Some may prefer the surreal comedy of Stadler's "Sex Offender," a novel simpler in theme: exotic sexuality vs. prosaic society's love-hate response to it. From my point of view, this is Stadler's masterpiece.
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.
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