Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (Millhauser)

Sometimes, when I am looking for something new to read, I’ll peruse lists like this one ( When I saw this title, I was surprised because I not only didn’t know the book, I’d never even heard of the author.

What a remarkable book. It evokes the spirit of Ragtime as well as the tone of writers like Dreiser. Millhauser’s sentences are monuments in and of themselves. Martin Dressler is a character I’ll not soon forget. He comes off like a fictional version of Robert Moses, one who lives best “in a world of definite things.”

This book made me long to walk the streets of late 19th century New York (though contemporary New York would likely be an adequate substitute) to admire the buildings, the constructions, the details. Imagine being there when New York was still becoming New York.

There is a lot to consider here, particularly concerning the architecture of public spaces and what happens to Martin, very much the quintessential American dreamer.

Wonderful, wonderful book. I wish I had a more formal excuse to write about it, so I could dig back into it. I will definitely re-read this one! You know that euphoria that washes over you after you finish a great book? I’m feeling it right now.


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