A pedophilic fantasy by the popular gay novelist (The Sex Offender, 1994, etc.) whose earlier work showed signs of a vivid imagination rather reluctantly reined in. Here, if hardly for the good, he pulls out all the stops. Most schoolteachers would consider it a tragedy to be fired for moral turpitude. But for narrator Matthew, it’s a good lead. Forced into a year’s leave of absence by irate parents who complain of a nonexistent —love affair— between him and their son, Matthew figures out that the lad is gay—and proceeds to seduce him after the fact. Then, when he’s given a paid leave, Matthew decides to change the scenery. His Seattle neighbor Herbert, a museum curator, is about to embark for Paris in an attempt to locate Picasso’s sketches of Gertrude Stein’s nephew Allan. Matthew and Herbert look uncannily alike, so Herbert allows Matthew to use his passport and go in his place. (Why Matthew couldn—t simply have gotten a cheap flight and cruised the bathhouses on his own is a question we—re apparently meant to suspend.) In Paris, Matthew becomes friendly with a family living down the hall, and he quickly falls in love with their teenaged son, StÇphane. It’s not long before he has StÇphane servicing him. Meanwhile, he tries to piece together the story of Allan Stein, whose strange and sad childhood in the homes of turn-of-the-century Paris intellectuals haunts Matthew almost as much as his search for the Picasso sketches does. In pursuit of the latter, Matthew leaves for the south of France—with StÇphane in tow. Eventually, StÇphane’s parents learn that Matthew is an imposter as well as a pedophile, but StÇphane has no regrets. The course of true love, for Matthew at least, is never straight. A hackneyed portrayal of gay lust: vacuous, pointless, and tasteless in the extreme.