Hotel De Dream
A New York Novel
by Edmund White
I am in New York this week, so I thought it was a good time to mention a book that I read this summer in Sicily.
Hotel de Dream is a fictional account of the final months in the life of American author Stephen Crane. (Every American high school student read Crane's Red Badge of Courage.) Crane is in Sussex, England, dying of tuberculosis at age 28 and he is being cared for by his wife Cora. In the midst of the confusion and tragedy of his last days, Crane dictates a strange novel called "The Painted Boy," set in seedy New York City at the end of the 1890's. Edmund White's novel flows back and forth between the words of the dictated tale and the narrative of Crane's final days in the English countryside. "The Painted Boy" is the story of a boy prostitute and the married man who ruins his own life to win the boy's love. Hotel de Dream presents two love stories: Crane and his wife, and the painted boy and his banker lover. This novel-within-a-novel has both the style of Crane and White and was a book that was difficult to put down.