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The Sleep-Over Artist: Fiction Paperback – May 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (May 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393321711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393321715
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,808,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Featuring a New York that, like Kundera's Prague, is a vast hive of seductions and betrayals, Beller's carefully crafted debut novel charts the coming-of-age of Alex Fader, already familiar from Beller's short story collection, Seduction Theory. Fader grows up "in an apartment on the 14th floor of a large prewar building that took up an entire block of Riverside Drive." His father, a psychoanalyst, dies when Alex is 10; his mother, a dancer, discovers in herself a talent for scholarship and eventually writes a large, authoritative tome on the moral origins of WWI. Alex himself, cousin to the characters in Rick Moody's novels, has a very '70s adolescence; while Moody's characters get their high school kicks in the post-Cheever suburbs, however, Alex is buying Thai sticks from a dealer in the Village and attending numerous extravagant bar mitzvah parties. Curious and keenly observant, he frequently sleeps over at his friends' apartments and perceives various patterns of family relationships. As he moves out of adolescence, Alex discovers his sensual nature. With his mother's image as archetype, he dates a series of successful, competent, beautiful women. Finally, he meets Katrina, an upper-class Londoner with a young son, who succumbs to his charm against her better judgment. Alex invariably adopts a boyish stance in his relationships, alternating between adoration and cruelty, but his conscience gives him trouble on another score. He and his cousin Karl have moved their Alzheimer's-afflicted Aunti B to an old folks' home in Pennsylvania, and Alex guiltily takes over her empty apartment. Always acutely conscious of his environment, he is uneasy living in a place redolent of his childhood, one that is not "clean of history." The narrative moves through Alex's 20s, and ends, symmetrically, with Alex, now a filmmaker, back in the Riverside Drive apartment, lunching with his mother. Beller has the true novelist's knack for weaving together the disparate threads of postmodern urban existence into convincing studies of character. The vignettes of Alex's life coalesce into a moving portrait of a young man intuitively seeking a place he can call home. (June) FYI: Beller is a founding editor of Open City magazine.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Beller's stories trace the life of Alex Fader, New Yorker, from age six to age 30 or so. The title is apt, for Alex never seems quite at home anywhere but is always an outsider, crashing other people's homes and lives. In "Harmonie Club," he almost carries off his charade of being a member of the exclusive club to which his best friend's father belongs. He drifts in and out of relationships. The longest story, "Seconds of Pleasure," finds him in London, where he has gone on a whim after losing his job. There he meets glamorous Katrina, a soon-to-be-divorced mother, and begins a complicated long-distance affair. The "sleep-over" theme is most fully realized here, where Alex is casting about for a place in the center of Katrina's life, competing with both husband and son. Her substantial London house, another place where Alex is a visitor but never really belongs, is described in considerable detail. Each of the stories stands alone, but it's their cumulative effect that lends the collection weight. Mary Ellen Quinn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The stories weren't very cohesive for me.
Eric K.
Dupont gives this book a one star rating and advises all but the author's friends and acquaintances not to purchase it.
misterdupont@yahoo.com
The novel is written in a narrative form as related by the main character.
Fred Camfield

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fred Camfield on July 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The main setting for this novel is the concrete canyons of New York City where the main character, Alex Fader, spends his childhood in a high-rise apartment. Having personally grown up in a small town in the northwest, I have always regarded New Yorkers as being from an alien culture. This novel, perhaps, explains some of that culture.
The novel is written in a narrative form as related by the main character. It is written as a series of related short stories, initially about incidents in his childhood, and then about relationships with a succession of women. He is not exactly a gigolo, but is somewhat a parasite as he camps out with various girlfriends. He drifts through various jobs, including drummer with a rock band (with a girlfriend who makes sheep noises), but is not overly successful at anything.
Just as Alex seems to be developing a serious relationship, it abruptly ends and he is back with his mother. It seemed like there was a chapter or two missing. It is a somewhat interesting novel, but easy to set aside.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Caroline P. Hampton on August 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I had been waiting a longtime to read, "The Sleep-Over Artist" by Thomas Beller. I had heard great things about it, and I genuinely excited about it. But, sadly, it didn't live up to what I had hoped. I found it melodramatic and down right boring in spots. I never really knew what the author was talking about, and in what time frame we (as the reader) were dealing with. It was confusing and a bit too choppy for my taste. I was disappointed and wished for more.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ZVON on April 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this to be a well written, captivating book. It was so captivating that I read it three times. I normally do not like, or read very much fiction . What drew me to this book was the fact that I like Thomas Beller's non-fiction writing so much. I was therefore very curious to see what his fiction would be like. I started out by reading Seduction Theory, his excellent book of short stories, several of which deal with Alex Fader, the main character of this book. To my surprise, I liked it very much. So I decided to read this book next.
I was not disappointed. I found the writing to be excellent. The character of Alex Fader is well drawn, very complex and very interesting. I found the book to be ultimately very moving. Alex Fader is not always an easy character to like or understand, but his internal conflicts and great vulnerability eventually draw the reader into liking him and being concerned about his fate in life. Mr. Beller has done an excellent job with this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Amey on February 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
While at times engaging, this coming-of-age tale ultimately didn't bring anything new to the genre. I was never so bored that I put it down, but nor did I find any of the characters particularly engaging... they seem to float through life, never connecting with anyone, including the reader. There were points where the narrative jumped sideways in a jarring way, especially towards the end, that were too abrupt, unexplained, and made the book unsatisfying. Good material, but needs a good editor!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Eric K. VINE VOICE on August 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
THE SLEEPOVER ARTIST sounded like an interesting premise and I wanted to like the novel because I liked the author's writing style, but it was a snoozer and I just couldn't finish. I made it about 3/4 through and decided I had wasted enough of my precious reading time. It was time to move on to something else.

THE SLEEPOVER ARTIST is told in several different short stories and each one may have an interesting plot here and there, but as a novel, it didn't seem to work. The stories weren't very cohesive for me. Just as I got interested (a little) in one plotline, the next chapter would jump several years later or several years earlier. It made me appreciate the characters less as I tried to figure out how everything fit together to tell me a story about Alex, the main character.

After reading 3/4 of the book, I found that I really didn't know much about Alex. Worse, I didn't care what happened to him or any of the characters in the "novel," so I gave up. Therefore, sadly, I can't recommend this book, but I hope the author matures in his plotlines for future novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Gibson on July 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an enjoyable but amateurish book about a shallow and annoying young man who passes through a succession of unsuccessful romantic relationships, along with some other significant life events. Various stylistic flaws should have been caught by an editor. For instance, especially in the first half of the book, Beller is given to juxtaposing contradictory emotions: too often we read of the main character's "mixture of malevolence and love," or "a mixture of sadness and exasperation and sexual excitation." Beller is no doubt trying to sound emotionally profound in these passages, but he doesn't make the effort to explicate these ambivalences realistically. Further, the book also does not end, it just terminates. And yet, on occasion Beller says something truly insightful, as in my favorite scene when the main character, Alex, tries to kiss a woman he'd been wooing through feigned indifference; finding himself rebuffed, he bows out awkwardly, admitting that once you've tried to kiss a woman and failed, you can't return to the indifference routine. But such rare gems are few and far between. In sum, this book is better than watching commercials, but for something better read A Trip to the Stars.
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More About the Author

Thomas Beller is the author of Seduction Theory, a collection of stories; The Sleep-Over Artist, a novel; and How to Be a Man: Scenes from a Protracted Boyhood, an essay collection. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker's Culture Desk, has edited numerous anthologies including two drawn from his website, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, and was a cofounder of the literary journal Open City.

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