Rand Taber, one of The Times’ “25 artists under 25 to watch” has painter’s block. He needs to get out of New York to work again. Introduced to Harris Montrose, an artistic giant and eccentric who has secluded himself in Providence, Rhode Island, Rand becomes Montrose’s studio assistant.

Rand has a front-row seat on the deteriorating relationship between Montrose and his life-long friend, the sculptor Simon Pruhar. When Montrose puts Pruhar in his new picture, “The Rape of the Muse,” and publishes it in Vanity Fair, his oldest friend sues for libel.

Rand’s journey, as he falls for a woman who pushes him to paint again, is one of artistic inspiration, love and betrayal, hero worship and disappointment. This novel is based on a true art-world rivalry and courtroom drama


"Of all the books I’ve read recently, this is the one I’d label as art and recommend most highly to my most artistic friends, a novel filled with parallels real and imagined that leavesthe reader breathless." -Cafe Libri


"A tale of artistic inspiration, love, betrayal, and First Amendment rights." The Boston Globe


"Michael Stein writes in an alluring and erudite manner. He describes a scrappy, cut-throat, exuberant, creative world of ups and downs. The art world vacillates between fame and glamor and the starving artist. in a moment one can become the most talked about artist in New York and the next one can drop off the scene completely.... The Rape of the Muse is one of the best novels I’ve read all year."

-Entertainment Realm