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Ebook Details
  • 05/2017
  • 978-1546647126 B071G8KFX1
  • 345 pages
  • $2.99
Stainer: A Novel of the 'Me' Decade

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

New York City, 1975: Decent-hearted but spoiled Jewish college kid Ben Steiner is naively possessed by an overwhelming desire to be cool. At a springtime party on the night of his twenty-first birthday, he meets two people: Rebecca Glaser, the longed-for sweet girl of his dreams, and P.T. Deighland, a beguilingly knavish wiseacre from Princeton. Seduced by Deighland's cocksure irreverence while simultaneously succumbing to his own temptations, Ben makes a cascading series of unfortunate choices which not only threaten his budding relationship with Rebecca, but expose him to ruin at the hands of a ravishing but ruthless fashion model named Anthea Montague. Against the background of a vanished period in American history, STAINER offers a bittersweet nostalgic trip back to a less complex world, during a time of incautious excesses that, while deceptively fun and carefree, in due course forced many unwary youngsters like Benjamin Steiner to learn some necessary -albeit painful- lessons about growing up.
Reviews
Self-Publishing Review

Stainer by Iolanthe Woulff follows the life of Ben Steiner, a precocious but terminally uncool college student living in 1970’s New York City. Beginning on his 21st birthday, he meets the girl of his dreams, as well as the dynamic P.T. Deighland who’s a magnetic presence but doesn’t always have Ben’s interests at heart. As Ben awakens to new experiences, and struggles with breaking free from his conservative upbringing, his desire for acceptance may just end up being his downfall.

Though the cover might suggest that this is a political novel, this is a true coming of age novel – not just for Ben, but for the country itself, as the 70s play an important part in Ben’s sense of displacement during the “Me Decade.” Each character is expertly drawn by Woulff, to the point where characters’ actions are exasperating, in the way that many of us were when we were young. Ben may not be the most dynamic person, but this is a dynamic portrayal.

It has to be mentioned that this book has had a very interesting trajectory, as Woulff lays out in her preface. First written in the 70s, when Woulff went by “Nate,” she transitioned to a woman and then rewrote the earlier work with this new perspective. She says that readers can “disregard” the preface, but it paints the novel in a fascinating light. What it does is give Ben’s narrative the flavor of a memoir – not so much a “period novel,” as a partly non-fictional account of a time and place, as well as mistakes Woulff may have made herself.

As a literary novel, Stainer might lack the heady intellectual lyricism of Philip Roth, but Woulff is an incisive observer of the outsider status of American Jews, and holds nothing back about emerging sexuality in the vein of Roth’s Zuckerman. A worthy project for Woulff to have revisited, Stainer is an entertaining and keenly-observed novel.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 05/2017
  • 978-1546647126 B071G8KFX1
  • 345 pages
  • $2.99

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