Hotel de Dream
Stephen Crane is writing a new story, and it may be his last. The year is 1900. The famous author of The Red Badge of Courage is travelling to a Black Forest clinic in search of a cure for the tuberculosis that threatens his life. He dictates to his wife, Cora, the story of 'The Painted Boy', inspired by a real-life encounter with a fifteen-year-old newsboy, Elliott, one wintry day in the Bowery. In the story Elliott is both impressionable and elusive. He finds himself the object of the hopeless affections of Theodore, the staid middle-aged banker who sets him up in an apartment and visits him every day. Elliott frequents the Fairy Saloons of turn-of-the-century Manhattan, home to an outrageous, hedonistic group of raggle-taggle transvestites. Slowly, Theodore is drawn into a seedy underworld of secrets and betrayal that endangers their love, their homes, and their lives. The story grows as Crane's strength deteriorates, and the outcome of the story becomes as critical as the author's life itself. Atmospheric and tender, Hotel de Dream is a deftly layered novel of longing, both gay and straight.