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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.
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.
A major theme of this novel concerns the protagonist's sexual preference for young boys (around age 15 or so). There are a number of sex scenes, but they don't seem especially shocking or erotic. The protagonist doesn't emerge as an evil man, and the boys he has sex with don't seem particularly upset or damaged as a result of their experiences with him. That was a surprise for me, sort of like the bottom line being, "Oh, how could anyone resist such an incredibly attractive boy?" while the boys themselves seem more or less to chalk it up to experience. Much of the development of the protagonist's actions focuses on his fantasies about the physical and psychological characteristics of his "lovers." At one point, he ruminates that boys are special then they grow up into ordinary men.
The novel isn't littered with the protagonist's conquests, but a central theme is his attraction to boys. The writing is very well done, and leaves the reader not necessarily with a sense of outrage but instead with a thought-provoking look at one man's relationships (not just to boys) and his psychological makeup.
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 11 months ago by S. C. Matthews
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
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. Read morePublished on April 10, 2003 by Christopher Schmitz
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