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Title Details
Allan Stein by Stadler, Matthew
Allan Stein: A Novel
by Stadler, Matthew
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 St├ęphane, 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

Published 2000 by Grove Press, Paperback, 256 Pages, ISBN: 9780802136626, ISBN-10: 0802136621, List Price $12.00.

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