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Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel Hardcover – September 4, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060852259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060852252
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,877,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A biographical fantasia, White's latest imagines the final days of the poet and novelist Stephen Crane (The Red Badge of Courage), who died of TB at age 28 in 1900. At the same time, White also imagines and writes The Painted Boy, a work that he has Crane say he began in 1895, but burned after warnings from a friend. Crane dictates a fresh start on the story to his common-law wife, Cora Stewart-Taylor. Interspersed within White's impressionistic account of Crane's life, The Painted Boy tells the tale of Elliott, a ganymede butt-boy buggaree. Once a farm boy used by his widowed father and elder brothers like a girl, Elliott escapes to New York and begins a new life as a street hustler. Crane, dying overseas, asks that someone skilled and open minded complete the novella. The wry Cora, in her earlier career as a madam at the Jacksonville, Fla. Hotel de Dream, has some ideas of who among Crane's friends fits the bill. Though White's research and marshaling of slang are impressive, The Painted Boy approaches the sexual frankness of porn and reads improbably. But as White's book(s) build up steam, readers will let go of misgivings, caught up in Elliott's tragic love life and Crane's apocalyptic end. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Rumors of Stephen Crane’s last, lost work have been around for ages, and they give Edmund White an excellent excuse to practice his well-honed brand of invented history in his 19th novel. Problems arise, however, with the overreaching story within a story. The tale of a country boy turned rent boy may have been shocking at the turn of the last century, but it will raise fewer eyebrows today. And it doesn’t do justice to the rich literary talents of Stephen Crane or, for that matter, Edmund White. Luckily, the critics agreed that the gripping, desperate finale of Hotel de Dream contains some of White’s best writing and that the depictions of Crane and Cora, plus a cameo of Henry James, are also very well done.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This is an interesting concept, well executed.
jim norton
A most intriguing story about the American writer and poet Stephen Crane, and his common-law wife Cora, and him writing his final book about Elliot, the painted boy.
Joseph H. Race
As always with Mr. White's writing, there is a torrent of evocative details.
H. F. Corbin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 105 people found the following review helpful By I. Sondel VINE VOICE on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Alright, if you've read my previous Amazon book reviews, then you know I'm a sucker for literary novels that feature historic literary figures - "The Hours," "The Book of Salt," "The Swimming Pool Library." Add Edmund White's "Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel" to that list.

The writer Stephen Crane is dying of TB. His common-law wife Cora, the former proprietress of the Hotel de Dream, is trying everything she can to prolong the inevitable. The two have taken up residence in Sussex and journey to the Black Forest in search of a cure. Theirs is the central love story, and White renders it with an uncommonly subtle intensity.

It has been claimed by Crane scholars that he had written, at least in part, a novella of a young male prostitute called "Flowers of Asphalt," which he destroyed at the urging of fellow writer Hamlin Garland. White picks up the strands of this lost tale and runs with it. On his death bed Crane's mind wanders back to his encounter with Elliott, a painted boy, and becomes consumed with finally dictating the boys tragic story.

I'll not disclose any more of the story. I will say that this is a beautiful prose work by a genuine master of his craft. I haven't read anything by Crane in decades. However, his "Red Badge of Courage" remains vivid in my mind. Has White captured Crane's "style," his "voice"? There are so many variables that such a question becomes moot. This is after all Crane dictating from his fevered deathbed. Is the story within a story pornographic? Not at all. The sexual relationship between Elliott and his middle-aged suiter is told frankly. It is the honest depiction of one man's obsessive love, and the havoc and chaos that follow. Would Crane have ever been able to publish such a work? Probably not.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edmund White's latest novel HOTEL DE DREAM is as good as anything he has ever written and the best thing he has published since THE MARRIED MAN. It is, in White's own words, his "fantasia on real themes provided by history." Near the end of Stephen Crane's far too short life (he died of tuberculosis at twenty-eight), according to his friend the critic James Gibbons Huneker, he started a novel about a boy prostitute based on a lad he and Huneker had met on the streets of New York but Hamlin Garland convinced him to destroy the manuscript. Mr. White has taken that bit of information, whether real or apocryphal, and has run with it. He acknowledges in his "postface" that Huneker may have been less than honest or a "fabulist." Whether Crane ever began such a novel or not, Mr. White has given us an account of the final days of writer of two of the great pieces of American literature, the novel THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE and the short story "The Open Boat," and a re-creation of a fragment of a Crane novel THE PAINTED BOY, both of which are completely believable. That Stephen Crane who by all accounts was heterosexual could write so convincingly and successfully about a syphilitic, impoverished sixteen-year-old boy prostitute is no stretch since he wrote so brilliantly about war without ever having seen combat (THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE), and sympathized with the downtrodden (MAGGIE, A GIRL OF THE STREETS). White's fiction, on the other hand, is often autobiographical. He certainly could use his own sad experience in caring for a dying lover to create the touching, poignant scenes between Crane and his companion Cora-- not actually his wife since she couldn't find her second husband to divorce him. Crane describes dying as "'When you come to the hedge--that we all must go over--it isn't bad.Read more ›
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edmund White, gratefully, is a prolific writer, a gifted man of letters who has become one of America's more important authors. While much of Edmund White's oeuvre is about gay life, he does not confine his talent to the one topic: he is a brilliant biographer, a fine man of research, and a poet with prose. HOTEL DE DREAM: A New York Novel is his latest foray into fictional biography and for this reader the book succeeds on every level.

The short novel is ostensibly a 'biographical' account of the sadly brief life of novelist Stephen Crane, a nineteenth century literary giant who is best known for THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, but who also wrote a few other short novels and story collections. Basing the concept of this novel on both fact and fantasy, Edmund White gives us the last days of Stephen Crane's life, a tortured existence as he succumbed to tuberculosis, nursed by his beloved mistress Cora, an ex-Madame who had run a bordello in Florida called the Hotel de Dream. Crane had in fact befriended a poor youth who happened to be a male prostitute infected with syphilis: White takes this fact and uses it as a unique approach to explore the mind of Crane, using the fragment of thought that Crane was planning to create a story 'Flowers of Asphalt' based on the sad lad as the impetus for this brilliant book, the composition of a final novel called 'The Painted Boy.
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