Matinee, Robert Steiner's captivating new novel, gives us a wild, modern-day in the New England woods, where a cosmopolitan array of guests revels in numerous couplings and uncouplings, movies, music, and murder. (Or is it suicide?) The party's conspicuously absent host, O.T. Stone, has retreated to his study, where he holds a nameless hostage at gunpoint throughout the night.
The contemporary story is interrupted by Steiner's imaginative reinventions of historical and literary episodes: After the death of Don Quixote, Sancho Panza becomes Don Juan's valet; Casanova's exploits are told through a series of love letters; Casanova confounds Mozart in a villa outside of Prague; later, he meets Don Juan, and the two great lovers confront each other beside the Seine in Paris.
Steiner skillfully weaves these parables into one another, and into the contemporary story (culminating in O.T. Stone's appearance in a film about Casanova), with surprising results. Matinee is a fast-paced, erotic, and multilayered novel - a literary mosaic which includes paintings, puzzles, sing-alongs, drawings, intermissions, a Chinese detective, Federico Fellini, foreplay, climaxes, and provocative revelations about memory and desire, fate and freedom, imagination and truth, life and fiction.
"Robert Steiner … has written an astonishing work … in a style dark and gorgeous. (He) is a master of the sensual."—Los Angeles Times
"Steiner is a rare sort of writer … a kind of poet among novelists, intensely lyrical, highly intelligent, a shrewd and elegant craftsman." —Robert Coover
"Steiner's prose is taut, his imagery … shocking and original. He makes the world tilt, provided a new way of seeing."
—North American Review
"Dramatic events are subtly intertwined with the quotidian, giving them a spellbinding power. The novel (Dread) is … consistently absorbing." —New York Times Book Review
Mssshugeh! Berkeley Bill hallooed the room, arriving late to the scene flanked by Lil and Tina and their foaming beer cans. It was Bill who pointed out Jean-Paul on the verandah filming through the damaged shutters. In fact JP films Bill pointing him out, he even filmed the quartet that came out after him. He is a filming fool! Bill cried out. Paul felt weird seeing Eddie in her husband's clutches. He could tell the guy was determined to leave and that his wife was reluctant. Paul wondered if under the circumstances she'd stay, knowing the family as she did, being an ex-wife as she was, being a current lover as he knew. And just say oh go to hell to the flying frog. He'd have gone nuts if Eddie had cozied up to him right then and there and grabbed his hand. Of course Theo might've too. Also the frog. Where Jean-Paul had been standing on the verandah the bull now was, groaning into the study and dirtying the floor. Then everybody heard the clop clop of Casanova sniffing the kitchen and the scrape of the dog paws on the stairs. Patty's over, twelve people said with a yawn when Theo started to move around a bit, like an athlete walking off a cramp on the field. That got maybe three sets of people into their cars, including the Finches who would not make it alive to Boston let alone the Heel where they lived, but these made such a racket skidding out that others were encouraged to follow. The call of dawn imbedded in a tire. Party's over. It's finally over. O-o-ver!