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Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel

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Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780060852252
ISBN10: 0060852259
Condition: Standard
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Staff Pick

Edmund White is one of American literature's best kept secrets, and Hotel de Dream is his finest novel in nearly a decade. Give this one a chance; I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you've never read any of White's novels, this is a fantastic place to start. If you have read White's work before, this one just might rekindle your interest in him.
Recommended by Gary, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In a damp, old sussex castle, American literary phenomenon Stephen Crane lies on his deathbed, wasting away from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-eight. The world-famous author of The Red Badge of Courage has retreated to England with his wife, Cora, in part to avoid gossip about her ignominious past as the proprietress of a Florida bordello, the Hotel de Dream.

Though Crane's days are numbered, he and Cora live riotously, running up bills they'll never be able to pay, receiving visitors like Henry James and Joseph Conrad, and even planning a mad dash to Germany's Black Forest, where Cora hopes a leading TB specialist will provide a miracle cure.

Then, in the midst of the confusion and gathering tragedy of their lives, Crane begins dictating a strange novel. The Painted Boy draws from Crane's erstwhile journalist days in New York in the 1890s, a poignant story about a boy prostitute and the married man who ruins his own life to win the boy's love. Crane originally planned the book as a companion piece to Maggie, Girl of the Streets, but abandoned it when literary friends convinced him that such scandalous subject matter would destroy his career. Now, with his last breath, Crane devotes himself to refashioning this powerful novel, into which he pours his fascination with the underworld, his sympathy for the poor, his experiences as a reporter among New York's lowlife — and his complex feelings for his own devoted wife.

Seamlessly flowing between the vibrant, seedy atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Manhattan and the quiet Sussex countryside, Hotel de Dream tenderly presents the double love stories of Cora and Crane, and the painted boy and his banker lover. The brilliant novel-within-a-novel combines the youthful simplicity of Crane's own prose with White's elegant sense of form, offering an unforgettable portrait of passion in all its guises.

Review:

"'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.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Is it a sign of the decadence of literary culture that so many novels have been taking as their subjects the lives and quandaries of past novelists? Probably not, though recently we have had Virginia Woolf, Henry James (at least twice) and Arthur Conan Doyle among the more respectfully fictionalized, and Edgar Allan Poe and Kafka more loosely; the list could be extended. James makes a memorable appearance... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"White deals elegantly with themes of literary influence, indebtedness and impersonation....Intoxicatingly hedonistic and fearsomely bleak." New York Times

Review:

"[A] compelling, bracing portrait of an artist so committed to life that he obsessively strives to understand and to capture the unknown, thereby enlarging his circle of empathy, even in the face of death." San Diego Union-Tribune

Review:

"A minor effort, but a nice tribute to some of the author's literary progenitors." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

If Hotel de Dream...sends its reader back to Crane's original works, a great American undervalued writer will be newly honored." Oregonian

About the Author

Edmund White's novels include Fanny: A Fiction, A Boy's Own Story, The Farewell Symphony, and A Married Man. He is also the author of a biography of Jean Genet, a study of Marcel Proust, The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, and, most recently, his memoir, My Lives. Having lived in Paris for many years, he is now a New Yorker and teaches at Princeton University.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Leslie Joseph, January 10, 2008 (view all comments by Leslie Joseph)
Edmund White evokes turn of the century New York in magical detail. Stephen Crane is portrayed in a witty and thoughtful way, even at the end of his life. An extra treasure is the story within a story of Elliott, The Painted Boy.
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(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Grady Harp, October 21, 2007 (view all comments by Grady Harp)
The Painted Boy: Resurrection from the Deathbed of Stephen Crane

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.'

The novel deals with myriad aspects of Crane's life, but in the end it focuses on Crane dictating to Cora a 'fictionalized' story about a married banker, Theodore, who becomes enamored with a teenage, poor, syphilitic hustler named Elliott, only to find that his coming to grips with buried secrets of lust (tenderly satisfied by the very lovable Elliott) plunges him into a downward spiral that ends with a series of tragedies that parallel Stephen Crane's own consumptive death from tuberculosis. As Crane lies dying he shares his ideas for the conclusion of the story with the stalwart Cora, asking her to present the manuscript to Crane's respected colleague Henry James to complete after Crane dies. The story ends with a surprise that traces a circle to the beginning: the period of the turn of the century simply was not the time a story such as 'A Painted Boy' could be published.

Edmund White's ability to create a novel within a novel in such a fascinatingly credible manner is matched only by his gift for writing some of the most beautiful prose before us today. He understands character development, he knows the agony of personal tragedy, and his intellectual honesty dissects history so smoothly that his novel feels like true biography. And yet he takes the time to pause for moments of writing that are so touching they make the reader reflect with respect: 'He glanced down and saw that his sheet was stained yellow. He must have pissed himself. He started to cry. So it's come to this, he thought. He'd gone back to infancy and incontinence - with this difference: an infant has everything ahead of him and a loud tamtam is beating in his heart with anticipation, where as he, Stephen, felt the rhythm slowing into a valedictory murmur./ He was so ashamed of himself.'

HOTEL DE DREAM is a brilliant little novel and should please lovers of historical fiction as well as readers who long to find tomes of gleaming, eloquent writing. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060852252
Subtitle:
A New York Novel
Author:
White, Edmund
Author:
by Edmund White
Publisher:
Ecco
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Husbands
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Biographical fiction
Subject:
Manhattan (new york, n.y.)
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20070904
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.48x6.14x.93 in. .92 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » Men's Fiction

Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Ecco - English 9780060852252 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Edmund White is one of American literature's best kept secrets, and Hotel de Dream is his finest novel in nearly a decade. Give this one a chance; I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. If you've never read any of White's novels, this is a fantastic place to start. If you have read White's work before, this one just might rekindle your interest in him.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'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.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "White deals elegantly with themes of literary influence, indebtedness and impersonation....Intoxicatingly hedonistic and fearsomely bleak."
"Review" by , "[A] compelling, bracing portrait of an artist so committed to life that he obsessively strives to understand and to capture the unknown, thereby enlarging his circle of empathy, even in the face of death."
"Review" by , "A minor effort, but a nice tribute to some of the author's literary progenitors."
"Review" by , If Hotel de Dream...sends its reader back to Crane's original works, a great American undervalued writer will be newly honored."
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